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THE  TEXT  IS  FLY 

WITHIN  THE  BOOK 

ONLY 


"Without  equal  in  this  or  any  other  century." — Pulpit  Digest 
"Certainly  one  cannot  call  this  less  than  a  /great' 
tian  Century 


THE 

INTERPRETER'S 
BIBLE 


(For  the  complete  plan  of  The  Interpreter's  Bible  see  the  back  of  the  jacket) 

ABOUT  VOLUME  I 

VOLUME  I  contains  the  complete  commentary  on  Genesis  and  Exodus 
-—and  the  twenty-two  General  Articles  on  the  Bible  and  the  Old  Testa- 
ment. 

Here  some  of  the  ablest  scholars  and  preachers  of  our  time  con- 
tribute their  knowledge  of  the  findings  of  recent  research  and  their 
power  ot  interpretation  to  explore  the  wealth  of  preaching  and  teach- 
ing opportunities  in  the  beginning  books  of  the  Bible. 
Cuthbert  A.  Simpson  (Introduction  and  Exegesis  of  Genesis)  is  Regius 
Professor  of  Hebre  A  and  Canon  of  Christ  Church,  Oxford,  England.  He 
is  authoi  of  Revelation  and  Response  in  the  Old  Testament  and  Early 
Traditio  s  of  L(>.  ael. 

Walter  I  issell  Bowie  ^Exposition  of  Genesis)  is  sometime  Professor  of 
Homileti'  m  the  Protestant  Episcopal  Theological  Seminary  in  Virginia. 
He  is  the  '  Tsuch  widely  read  books  as  The  Story  of  the  Bible, 
Lift  Up  ''-  *arts,  Remembering  Christ,  The  Story  of  the  Church  t 
and  Chn  mth  Me. 

J.  Coert )  arsdam  (Introduction  and  Exegesis  of  Exodus)  is  Professor 
of  Old  T  ament  Theology,  The  Federated  Theological  Faculty  of  the 
Universit)  of  Chicago.  He  is  author  of  Revelation  in  Jewish  Wisdom 
Literature. 

J.  Edgar  Park  (Exposition  of  Exodus)  was,  until  his  death  in  1956,  Pres- 
ident Emeritus,  Wheaton  College,  Norton,  Massachusetts.  He  was  the 
author  of  The  Miracle  of  Preaching. 

The  22  General  Articles  on  the  Bible  and  the  Old  Testament  supply 
the  background  needed  for  fullest  understanding  of  the  Scriptures. 
Taken  together  they  would  make  a  sizable  volume — an  unsurpassed 
general  introduction  to  the  Bible  as  a  whole  and  to  the  Old  Testament 
with  concise  yet  thorough  coverage  of  their  many  fields,  as  follows: 

GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE  BIBLE 

The  Bible:  Its  Significance  and  Authority— Herbert  H.  Farmer,  Pro- 
fessor of  Divinity,  University  of  Cambridge 

The  Formation  and  Transmission  of  the  Old  Testament 

The  Canon  of  the  Old  Testament — Arthur  Jeffery,  Adjunct  Pro- 
fessor of  Semitic  Languages,  Union  Theological  Seminary 

Text  and  Ancient  Versions  of  the  Old  Testament— -Arthur  Jeffery 
The  Formation  and  Transmission  of  the  New  Testament 

The  Canon  of  the  New  Testament — Edgar  J.  Goodspeed,  Professor 
Emeritus  of  Biblical  and  Patristic  Greek,  University  of  Chicago 

(Continued  on  back  flap) 


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THE    INTERPRETER'S   BIBLE 


THE    INTERPRETER'S   BIBLE 

IN    TWELVE    VOLUMES 


VOLUME 


L  GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE  BIBLE;  GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE 
OLD  TESTAMENT;  GENESIS;  EXODUS 


II.  LEVITICUS;  NUMBERS;  DEUTERONOMY;  JOSHUA;  JUDGES;  RUTH; 
SAMUEL 


III.  KINGS;  CHRONICLES;  EZRA;  NEHEMIAH;  ESTHER;  JOB 

IV.  PSALMS;  PROVERBS 

V.  ECCLESIASTES;  SONG  OF  SONGS;  ISAIAH;  JEREMIAH 

VI.  LAMENTATIONS;  EZEKIEL;  DANIEL;  HOSEA;  JOEL;  AMOS; 
OBADIAH;  JONAH;  MICAH;  NAHUM;  HABAKKUK;  ZEPHANIAH; 
HAGGAI;  ZECHARIAH;  MALACHI 


VII,  GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT;  MATTHEW; 
MARK 


VIII.  LUKE;  JOHN 
IX.  ACTS;  ROMANS 
X.  CORINTHIANS;  GALATIANS;  EPHESIANS 


XL  PHILIPPIANS;  COLOSSIANS;  THESSALONIANS;  TIMOTHY;  TITUS; 
PHILEMON;  HEBREWS 


XII.  JAMES;  PETER;  JOHN;  JUDE;  REVELATION;  GENERAL  ARTICLES; 
INDEXES 


VOLUME  I 

GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE 
BIBLE 


GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE 
OLD  TESTAMENT 


THE  BOOK  OF 
GENESIS 


THE  BOOK.  OF 
EXODUS 


EDITORIAL  BOARD 


GEORGE  ARTHUR  BUTTRICK 

Commentary  Editor 

WALTER  RUSSELL  BOWIE  PAUL  SCHERER 

Associate  Editor  of  Exposition  Associate  Editor  of  Exposition 


JOHN  KNOX  SAMUEL  TERRIEN 

Associate  Editor  of  Associate  Editor  of 

New  Testament  Introduction  Old  Testament  Introduction 

and  Exegesis  and  Exegesis 


NOLAN  B.  HARMON 

Editor ,  Abingdon  Press 


THE 

INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


IN  THE  KING  JAMES  AND  REVISED  STANDARD  VERSIONS 

WITH  GENERAL  ARTICLES  AND 

INTRODUCTION,  EXEGESIS,  EXPOSITION 

FOR  EACH  BOOK  OF  THE  BIBLE 

IN  TWELVE  VOLUMES 


VOLUME 
I 


Dip' 


Copyright  1952  by  Pierce  and  Smith  in  the  United  States 
of  America.  Copyright  secured  in  all  countries  of  the 
International  Copyright  Union.  Published  simultaneously 
in  the  United  States,  the  Dominion  of  Canada,  and 
Great  Britain.  All  lights  reserved.  No  part  of  the  text 
may  be  reproduced  in  any  manner  whatsoever  with- 
out written  permission  of  the  publishers,  except  brief 
quotations  embodied  in  critical  articles  or  reviews. 
For  information  address  Abmgdon  Press 

Nashville,  Tennessee 
Copyright  renewal  ©  1980  by  Abingdon 

ISBN  0-681-19201-2 
Library  of  Congress  Catalog  Card  Number:  51-12276 

The  text  of  the  Revised  Standard  Version  of  the  Bible 
(RSV)  and  quotations  therefrom  are  copyright  1946, 1952 
by  Division  of  Christian  Education  of  the  National  Coun- 
cil of  the  Churches  of  Christ  in  the  United  States  of 
America.  Scripture  quotations  designated  "ASV"  are 
from  the  American  Standard  Version  of  the  Revised 
Bible,  copyright  renewed  1929  by  the  International  Coun- 
cil of  Religious  Education.  Those  designated  "Moffatt" 
are  from  The  Bible,  A  New  Translation,  by  James  Mof- 
fatt, copyright  in  the  United  States,  1935,  by  Harper  & 
Brothers,  New  York;  copyright  in  countries  of  the 
International  Copyright  Union  by  Hodder  &  Stoughton, 
Ltd,,  London.  Those  designated  "Amer.  Trans."  or 
"Goodspeed"  are  from  The  Complete  Bible,  An  Ameri- 
can Translation,  by  J.  M.  Powis  Smith  and  Edgar  J. 
Goodspeed,  copyright  1939  by  the  University  of  Chicago. 


Thirty-ninth  Printing  1984 


MANUFACTURED  BY  THE  PARTHENON 
PRESS  AT  NASHVILLE,  TENNESSEE, 
UNITED  STATES  OF  AMERICA 


CONSULTING    EDITORS 


JOHN  W.  BAILEY 

Professor  Emeritus  of  New  Testament 
Interpretation,  Berkeley  Baptist  Divinity 
School 

JOHN  BAILLIE 

Professor  of  Divinity,  University  of  Edin- 
burgh 

FRANK  RUSSELL  BARRY 
Bishop  of  Southwell 

WALLACE  BASSETT 

Minister,   Cliff  Temple  Baptist  Church, 

Dallas 

JOHN  W.  BEARDSLEE,  JR. 

New  Testament,  New  Brunswick 
Theological  Seminary 

C.  IRVING  BENSON 

Superintendent  Minister,  Wesley  Church, 
Melbourne 

B.  HARVIE  BRANSCOMB 

Chancellor,  Vanderbilt  University 

MILLAR  BURROWS 

Professor  of  Biblical  Theology,  The 
Divinity  School,  Yale  University 

J.  HARRY  COTTON 

Professor  of  Philosophy,  Wabash  College 

CLARENCE  T.  CRAIG 

Dean,  Drew  Theological  Seminary 

ANGUS  DUN 

Bishop  of  Washington,  D.C. 

HERBERT  H.  FARMER 

Professor  of  Divinity,  University  of 
Cambridge 

HUGHELL  E.  W.  FOSBROKE 

Dean  Emeritus,  General  Theological 
Seminary 


ELLIS  A.  FULLER 

President,   Southern  Baptist  Theological 

Seminary 

FREDERICK  C.  GRANT 

Professor  of  Biblical  Theology,   Union 
Theological  Seminary,  New  York 

GEORGIA  HARKNESS 

Professor  of  Applied  Theology,  Pacific 
School  of  Religion 

PAULJ.HOH 

President,    Lutheran    Theological    Semi- 
nary, Philadelphia 

LYNN  HAROLD  HOUGH 

Sometime  Dean,  Drew  Theological  Semi- 
nary 

UMPHREY  LEE 

President,  Southern  Methodist  University 

HALFORD  E.  LUCCOCK 

Professor  of  Homiletics,  The  Divinity 
School,  Yale  University 

W.  E.  McCuLLOCH 

Associate  Editor,  The  United  Presbyterian 

CHARLES  CLAYTON  MORRISON 

Editor  Emeritus,  The  Christian  Century 

JAMES  MUILENBURG 

Professor  of  Hebrew  and  Cognate  Lan- 
guages, Union  Theological  Seminary, 
New  York 

EDWIN  McNEiLL  POTEAT 

Minister,  Pullen  Memorial  Baptist  Church, 
Raleigh,  North  Carolina 

SAMUEL  DAVID  PRESS 

President  Emeritus  and  Professor  of  New 
Testament  and  Systematic  Theology, 
Eden  Theologi  :al  Seminary 


vii 


ALEXANDER  C.  PURDY 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 
WILLARD  L.  SPERRY 


Professor  of  New  Testament,  Hartford 
Theological  Seminary 

GEORGE  W.  RICHARDS 

President  Emeritus  and  Professor  Emeri- 
tus of  Church  History,  Theological  Semi- 
nary of  the  Evangelical  and  Reformed 
Church 

R.  B.  Y.  SCOTT 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  Language  and 
Literature,  Faculty  of  Divinity,  McGill 
University 

W.  AIKEN  SMART 

Professor  of  Biblical  Theology,  Emory 
University 

HORACE  G.  SMITH 

President  and  Professor  of  Preaching,  Gar- 
rett  Biblical  Institute 


Dean  of  the  Divinity  School,  Chairman  of 
the  Board  of  Preachers,  Harvard  Univer- 
sity 

JOHN  S.  STAMM 

Bishop  of  the  Evangelical  United  Brethren 
Church 

W.  TALIAFERRO  THOMPSON 

Professor  of  Christian  Education,  Union 
Theological  Seminary,  Bichmond 

HOWARD  THURMAN 

Minister,  The  Church  for  the  Fellowship 
of  All  Peoples,  San  Francisco 

LESLIE  D.  WEATHERHEAD 

Hon.  Chaplain  to  His  Majesty's  Forces, 
Minister,  The  City  Temple,  London 

AMOS  N.  WILDER 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Interpreta- 
tion, Chicago  Theological  Seminary  and 
Federated  Theological  Faculty  of  the 
University  of  Chicago 


viii 


CONTRIBUTORS 


WILLIAM  F.  ALBRIGHT 

Professor    of   Semitic   Languages,   Johns 
Hopkins  University 
General  Article 

The  Old  Testament  World 

E.  L.  ALLEN 

Lecturer  in  Divinity,  University  of 
Durham 
Exposition    EzeMel 

BERNHARD  W.  ANDERSON 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  Interpreta- 
tion, Colgate-Rochester  Divinity  School 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Esther 

GAITJS  GLENN  ATKINS 

Professor  Emeritus  of  Homiletics,  Auburn 
Theological  Seminary 
Exposition Ecclesiastes 

JOHN  W.  BAILEY 

Professor  Emeritus  of  New  Testament 
Interpretation,  Berkeley  Baptist  Divinity 
School 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I  and  II  Thessalonians 

FRANK  H.  BALLARD 

Minister,  Hampstead  Garden  Suburb  Free 
Church,  London 
Exposition  Psalms  90-150 

ALBERT  E.  BARNETT 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Interpreta- 
tion, Candler  School  of  Theology, 
Emory  University 

Introduction  and  Exegesis II  Peter 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Jude 

GEORGES  AUGUSTIN  BARROIS 

Associate  Professor  of  Biblical  Literature 
and  Theology,  Princeton  Theological 
Seminary 
General  Article 

Chronology,  Metrology,  etc. 


FRANCIS  W.  BEARE 

Professor    of    New    Testament    Studies, 

Trinity  College,  Toronto 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . .  Ephesians 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . .  .Cplossians 

OSCAR  F.  BLACKWELDER 

Minister,  Lutheran  Church  of  the  Refor- 
mation, Washington,  D.C. 
Exposition    Galatians 

HAROLD  A.  BOSLEY 

Minister,  First  Methodist  Church, 
Evanston,  Illinois 
Exposition    Micah 

WALTER  RUSSELL  BOWIE 

Professor  of  Homiletics,  The  Protestant 
Episcopal  Theological  Seminary  in 
Virginia 
General  Article 
The  Teaching  of  Jesus:  III.  The  Parables 

Exposition   Genesis 

Exposition Luke  1-6 

RAYMOND  A.  BOWMAN 

Associate  Professor,  Department  of  Ori- 
ental Languages  and  Literature,  Univer- 
sity of  Chicago 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Ezra 

Introduction  and  Exegesis  . .  Nehemiah 

JOHN  BRIGHT 

Professor  of  Hebrew  and  the  Interpreta- 
tion of  the  Old  Testament,  Union  The- 
ological Seminary,  Richmond 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Joshua 

GEORGE  ARTHUR  BUTTRICK 

Minister,   Madison  Avenue  Presbyterian 
Church,  New  York 
General  Article 

The  Study  of  the  Bible 

Exposition  Matthew 

Exposition .Luke  13-18 

Exposition    Philemon 

ALBERT  GEORGE  BUTZER 

Minister,  Westminster  Presbyterian 
Church,  Buffalo 
Exposition    Numbers 


ix 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


HENRY  J.  CADBURY 

Professor  of  Divinity,  The  Divinity 
School,  Harvard  University 
General  Article   ,  The  New  Testament 
and  Early  Christian  Literature 

GEORGE  B.  CAIRD 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Literature 
and  Interpretation,  McGill  University 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I  and  II  Samuel 

RAYMOND  CALKINS 

Minister  Emeritus,  First  Church  in  Cam- 
bridge, Congregational,  Cambridge,  Mas- 
sachusetts 
Exposition II  Kings 

JAMES  W.  CLARKE 

Minister,  Second  Presbyterian  Church,  St. 
Louis 
Exposition I  and  II  Thessalonians 

JAMES  T.  CLELAND 

Professor  of  Preaching  and  Preacher  to 
the  University,  The  Divinity  School,  Duke 
University 

Exposition    Ruth 

Exposition   Nahum 

Exposition Zechariah  9-14 

HENRY  SLOANE  COFFIN 

President   Emeritus,   Union   Theological 
Seminary,  New  York 
Exposition  Isaiah  40-66 

ERNEST  C  COLWELL 

President,  University  of  Chicago 

General  Article The  Text  and 

Ancient  Versions  of  the 
New  Testament 
J.  HARRY  COTTON 

Professor  of  Philosophy,  Wabash  College 
Exposition  Hebrews 

GERALD  R.  CRAGG 

Minister,  Erskine  and  American  United 
Church,  Montreal 
Exposition Romans 

CLARENCE  T.  CRAIG 

Dean,  Drew  Theological  Seminary 
General  Article  ....      The  Teaching 
of  Jesus:  I.  The  Proclamation 
of  the  Kingdom 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I  Corinthians 


ROBERT  C.  DENTAN 

Professor  of  the  Literature  and  Interpreta- 
tion of  the  Old  Testament,  Berkeley 
Divinity  School,  New  Haven 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

Zechariah  9-14 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Malachi 

BURTON  S.  EASTON 

Professor  Emeritus  of  Literature  and  In- 
terpretation of  the  New  Testament,  Gen- 
eral Theological  Seminary 
Introduction  and  Exegesis James 

PHILLIPS  P.  ELLIOTT 

Minister,  First  Presbyterian  Church, 
Brooklyn 
Exposition  Judges 

W.  A.  L.  ELMSLIE 

Principal  and  Professor  of  Hebrew  and 
Old  Testament  Theology  and  Literature, 
Westminster  College,  Cambridge 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I  and  II  Chronicles 
Exposition   I  and  II  Chronicles 

MORTON  SCOTT  ENSLIN 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Literature 
and  Exegesis,  Crozer  Theological  Semi- 
nary 
General  Article 

New  Testament  Times:  II.  Palestine 

HERBERT  H.  FARMER 

Professor  of  Divinity,  University  of 
Cambridge 

General  Article  The  Bible: 

Its  Significance  and  Authority 

THEODORE  P.  FERRIS 

Rector,  Trinity  Church,  Boston 
Exposition  Acts 

FLOYD  V.  FILSON 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Literature 
and  History,  McCormick  Theological 
Seminary 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

II  Corinthians 

HUGHELL  E.  W.  FOSBROKE 

Dean  Emeritus,  General  Theological 
Seminary 

General  Article 

The  Prophetic  Literature 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Amos 


CONTRIBUTORS 


CHARLES  T.  FRITSCH 

Associate   Professor   of  Old  Testament, 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 
Introduction  and  Exegesis    . .  .Proverbs 

FRED  D.  GEALY 

Professor    of    New    Testament    Greek, 
Perkins   School   of   Theology,   Southern 
Methodist  University 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I  and  II  Timothy  and  Titus 

CHARLES  W.  GILKEY 

Dean  Emeritus  of  the  University  Chapel, 
Professor  of  Preaching,  University  of 
Chicago 

Exposition  Ezra 

Exposition  Nehemiah 

S.  MACLEAN  GILMOUR 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Literature 
and  Criticism,  Queen's  Theological 
College 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Luke 

EDGAR  J.  GOODSPEED 

Professor  Emeritus  of  Biblical  and  Patristic 
Greek,  University  of  Chicago 
General  Article 

The  Canon  of  the  New  Testament 

ARTHUR  JOHN  GOSSIP 

Emeritus  Professor  of  Christian  Ethics  and 

Practical  Training,  University  of  Glasgow 

Exposition John 

FREDERICK  C.  GRANT 

Professor    of   fiiblical   Theology,   Union 
Theological  Seminary,  New  York 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Mark 

ROBERT  M.  GRANT 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Language 
and  Interpretation,  School  of  Theology, 
University  of  the  South 
General  Article  . .  The  History  of  the 
Interpretation  of  the  Bible: 
L  Ancient  Period 

WILLIAM  H.  P.  HATCH 

Professor  Emeritus  of  the  Literature  and 
Interpretation  of  the  New  Testament, 
Episcopal  Theological  School 
General  Article    .  .The  History  of  the 
Early  Church:  II.  The  Life  of  Paul 


ELMER  G.  HOMRIGHAUSEN 

Professor  of  Christian  Education,  Prince- 
ton Theological  Seminary 

Exposition  I  and  II  Peter 

Exposition  Jude 

PAUL  WAITMAN  HOON 

Minister,  First  Methodist  Church,  Ger- 
mantown,  Philadelphia 
Exposition I,  II,  and  III  John 

STANLEY  ROMAINE  HOPPER 

Professor  of  Christian  Ethics,  Drew  The- 
ological Seminary 
Exposition  Jeremiah 

LYNN  HAROLD  HOUGH 

Sometime  Dean,  Drew  Theological  Semi- 
nary 
Exposition    Revelation 


WILBERT  F.  HOWARD 

Principal,  Handsworth  College, 
Birmingham 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 


John 


ARCHIBALD  M.  HUNTER 

Professor  of  Divinity  and  Biblical  Criti- 
cism, King's  College,  Aberdeen  University 
Introduction  and  Exegesis I  Peter 

JAMES  PHILIP  HYATT 

Professor  of  Old  Testament,  School  of 
Religion,  Vanderbilt  University 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . , .  Jeremiah 

WILLIAM  A.  IRWIN 

Professor   of   Old   Testament   Language 
and  Literature,  Perkins  School  of  The- 
ology, Southern  Methodist  University 
General  Article 

The  Literature  of  the  Old  Testament 
General  Article 

The  Wisdom  Literature 

ARTHUR  JEFFERY 

Professor  of  Semitic  Languages,  Columbia 
University 
General  Article 

The  Canon  of  the  Old  Testament 

General  Article The  Text  and 

Ancient  Versions  of  the 

Old  Testament 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Daniel 


XI 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


SHERMAN  E.  JOHNSON 

Professor  of  Literature  and  Interpretation 
of  the  New  Testament,  Episcopal  Theo- 
logical School 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . . .  Matthew 

GERALD  KENNEDY 

Bishop,  The  Methodist  Church,  Portland 
Area 
Exposition   Daniel 

HUGH  THOMSON  KERR 

Pastor  Emeritus,  The  Shadyside  Presby- 
terian Church,  Pittsburgh 
Exposition Song  of  Songs 

G,  G.  D.  KlLPATRICK 

Principal,  The  United  Theological  Col- 
lege, Montreal 
Exposition  Isaiah  1-39 

JOHN  KNOX 

Professor  of  New  Testament,  Union 
Theological  Seminary,  New  York 

Exposition Luke  7-12 

Introduction  and  Exegesis   . .    Romans 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . .  .Philemon 

NORMAN  F.  LANGFORD 

The  Board  of  Christian  Education,  Pres- 
byterian Church  in  the  U.S.A. 

Exposition    Joel 

Exposition Obadiah 

ARTHUR  C.  LICHTENBERGER 

Bishop  Coadjutor  of  Missouri 
Exposition   Esther 

GANSE  LITTLE 

Minister,  Broad  Street  Presbyterian 
Church,  Columbus,  Ohio 
Exposition  II  Samuel 

SIDNEY  LOVETT 

Chaplain  of  Yale  University 
Exposition  Amos 

HALFORD  E.  LUCCOCK 

Professor  of  Homiletics,  The  Divinity 
School,  Yale  University 
Exposition   Mark 

G.  H.  C  MACGREGOR 

Professor  of  Divinity  and  Biblical  Criti- 
cism, University  of  Glasgow 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Acts 


G.  PRESTON  MACLEOD 

Minister,  Knox  United  Church,  Calgary, 
Alberta 
Exposition  Colossians 

JOHN  MARSH 

Professor  of  Christian  Theology,  The 
University,  Nottingham 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  .   .  Numbers 

JOHN  MAUCHLINE 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  Language  and 
Literature,  University  of  Glasgow 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Hosea 

HERBERT  G.  MAY 

Professor   of   Old   Testament  Language 
and  Literature,  Graduate  School  of  The- 
ology, Oberlin  College 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Ezekiel 

S.  VERNON  MCCASLAND 

Professor  of  Religion,  University  of 
Virginia 

General  Article New  Testament 

Times:  I  The  Greco-Roman  World 

JOHN  T.  MCNEILL 

Professor  of  Church  History,  Union 
Theological  Seminary,  New  York 
General  Article    .  The  History  of  the 
Interpretation  of  the  Bible:  II.  Medieval 
and  Reformation  Period 

THEOPHILE  J.  MEEK 

Professor  of  Oriental  Languages,  Univer- 
sity College,  University  of  Toronto 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

Song  of  Songs 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

Lamentations 

WILLIAM  PIERSON  MERRILL 

Pastor     Emeritus,     Brick     Presbyterian 
Church,  New  York 
Exposition  Lamentations 

BRUCE  M.  METZGER 

Associate  Professor  of  New  Testament, 
Princeton  Theological  Seminary 
General  Article 

The  Language  of  the  New  Testament 

NATHANIEL  MICKLEM 

Principal  and  Professor  of  Dogmatic  The- 
ology, Mansfield  College,  Oxford 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . . .  Leviticus 
Exposition  Leviticus 


xn 


CONTRIBUTORS 


PAUL  S.  MINEAR 

Professor  of  New  Testament,  Andover 
Newton  Theological  School 
General  Article        The  History  of  the 
Early  Church:  III.  Paul  the  Apostle 

JAMES  MUILENBURG 

Professor  of  Hebrew  and  Cognate  Lan- 
guages,    Union    Theological    Seminary, 
New  York 
General  Article 

The  History  of  the  Religion  of  Israel 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

Isaiah  40-66 

JACOB  M.  MYERS 

Professor   of   Old   Testament,   Lutheran 
Theological  Seminary,  Gettysburg 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Judges 

MORGAN  P.  NOTES 

Minister,    Central   Presbyterian    Church, 

Montclair,  New  Jersey 

Exposition I  and  II  Timothy 

Exposition   Titus 

J.  EDGAR  PARK 

President  Emeritus,  Wheaton  College, 
Norton,  Massachusetts 
Exposition    Exodus 

PIERSON  PARKER 

Professor   of   New  Testament,   General 
Theological  Seminary 
Exposition    Deuteronomy 

ALFRED  M.  PERRY 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Language 
and  Literature,  Bangor  Theological  Semi- 
nary 
General  Article 

The  Growth  of  the  Gospels 

ROBERT  H.  PFEIFFER 

Lecturer  on  Semitic  Languages  and  Cu- 
rator of  Semitic  Museum,  Harvard  Uni- 
versity; Professor,  Boston  University 
School  of  Theology 

General  Article The  Literature 

and  Religion  of  the  Apocrypha 

General  Article The  Literature 

and  Religion  of  the  Pseudepigrapha 

HAROLD  COOKE  PHILLIPS 

Minister,  First  Baptist  Church,  Cleveland 
Exposition    Hosea 


EDWIN  McNEiLL  POTEAT 

Minister,  Pullen  Memorial  Baptist  Church, 
Raleigh,  North  Carolina 
Exposition  Psalms  42-89 

GORDON  POTEAT 

Minister,  Tourist  Church,  Daytona  Beach, 
Florida 
Exposition  James 

ALEXANDER  C.  PURDY 

Professor  of  New  Testament,  Hartford 
Theological  Seminary 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . . .  Hebrews 

O.  S.  RANKIN 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  Language, 
Literature  and  Theology,  New  College, 
University  of  Edinburgh 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  .  Ecclesiastes 

JAMES  REID 

Minister,  Formerly  of  St.  Andrew's  Pres- 
byterian Church,  Eastbourne,  Sussex 
Exposition  II  Corinthians 

MARTIN  Risf 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Literature 
and  Interpretation,  Iliff  School  of  The- 
ology 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  . .  Revelation 

THEODORE  H.  ROBINSON 

Professor  Emeritus  of  Semitic  Languages, 
University  College,  Cardiff 
General  Article  .  .The  History  of  Israel 

J.  COERT  RYLAARSDAM 

Associate   Professor   of   Old   Testament 
Theology,    The    Federated    Theological 
Faculty  of  the  University  of  Chicago 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Exodus 


WILLIAM  SCARLETT 
Bishop  of  Missouri 
Exposition 


Jonah 


PAUL  SCHERER 

Professor  of  Homiletics,  Union  Theologi- 
cal Seminary,  New  York 

Exposition  Job 

Exposition Luke  19-24 

ROLLAND  W.  SCHLOERB 

Minister,  Hyde  Park  Baptist  Church, 
Chicago 
Exposition  Proverbs 


Xlll 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


JOHN  C.  SCHROEDER 

Master,  Calhoun  College,  Yale  University 
Exposition  I  Samuel 

J.  R.  P.  SCLATER 

Minister,  Old  St.  Andrew's  Church, 
Toronto 
Exposition  Psalms  1-41 

ERNEST  F.SCOTT 

Professor  Emeritus  of  Biblical  Theology, 
Union  Theological  Seminary,  New  York 

General  Article  . .  The  History  of  the 
Early  Church:  I  The  Beginnings 

Introduction  and  Exegesis  .  Philippians 

R.B.Y.  SCOTT 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  Language  and 
Literature,  Faculty  of  Divinity,  McGill 
University 
Introduction  and  Exegesis     Isaiah  1-39 

MASSEY  H.  SHEPHERD,  JR. 

Professor  of  Church  History,  Episcopal 
Theological  School 

General  Article      The  History 

of  the  Early  Church:  IV.  The 
Post- Apostolic  Age 

HENRY  HERBERT  SHIRES 

Bishop  Suffragan  of  California 
Exposition    Deuteronomy 

JOHN  SHORT 

Minister,  Richmond  Hill  Congregational 
Church,  Bournemouth 
Exposition I  Corinthians 

CUTHBERT  A.  SIMPSON 

Sub-dean  and  Professor  of  Old  Testament 
Literature  and  Interpretation,  General 
Theological  Seminary 
General  Article 

The  Growth  of  the  Hexateuch 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Genesis 

JOSEPH  R.  Sizoo 

President,   New  Brunswick  Theological 
Seminary 
Exposition  Joshua 

JAMES  D.  SMART 

Minister,  Rosedale  Presbyterian  Church, 
Toronto 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Jonah 


LOUISE  PETTIBONE  SMITH 

Professor  of  Biblical  History,  Wellesley 
College 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Ruth 

NORMAN  H.  SNAITH 

Tutor  in  Old  Testament  Languages  and 
Literature,  Wesley  College,  Leeds 
General  Article 

The  Language  of  the  Old  Testament 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I  and  II  Kings 

RALPH  W.  SOCKMAN 

Minister,  Christ  Church,  New  York 
Exposition  I  Kings 

THEODORE  CUYLER  SPEERS 

Minister,  Central  Presbyterian  Church, 
New  York 
Exposition  Zechariah  1-8 

WILLARD  L.  SPERRY 

Dean  of  the  Divinity  School,  Chairman 
of  the  Board  of  Preachers,  Harvard  Uni- 
versity 

Exposition    Haggai 

Exposition Malachi 

RAYMOND  T.  STAMM 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Language, 
Literature  and  Theology,  Lutheran  The- 
ological Seminary,  Gettysburg 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Galatians 

ROBERT  HARVEY  STRACHAN 

Professor  Emeritus  of  New  Testament 
Language    and   Literature,    Westminster 
College,  Cambridge 
General  Article 

The  Gospel  in  the  New  Testament 

CHARLES  L.  TAYLOR,  JR. 

Dean  and  Professor  of  Literature  and  In- 
terpretation of  the  Old  Testament,  Epis- 
copal Theological  School 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Nahum 

Introduction  and  Exegesis  .  .Habakkuk 
Introduction  and  Exegesis  .  .Zephaniah 

VINCENT  TAYLOR 

Principal  and  Tutor  in  New  Testament 
Language  and  Literature,  Wesley  College* 
Leeds 
General  Article 

The  Life  and  Ministry  of  Jesus 


xiv 


CONTRIBUTORS 


WILLIAM  R.  TAYLOR 

Principal  and  Professor,  Department  of 
Semitics,  University  College,  University 
of  Toronto 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Psalms 

SAMUEL  TERRIEN 

Associate  Professor  of  Old  Testament, 

Union  Theological  Seminary,  New  York 

General  Article — The  History  of  the 

Interpretation  of  the  Bible: 

III.  Modern  Period 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Job 

D.  WINTON  THOMAS 

Regius  Professor  of  Hebrew,  University 
of  Cambridge 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Haggai 

Introduction  and  Exegesis 

Zechariah  1-8 

JOHN  A.  THOMPSON 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  Language  and 
Exegesis,  Evangelical  Theological  Semi- 
nary, Cairo,  Egypt 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Joel 

Introduction  and  Exegesis Obadiah 

HOWARD  THURMAN 

Minister,  The  Church  for  the  Fellowship 

of  All  Peoples,  San  Francisco 

Exposition Habakkuk 

Exposition  Zephaniah 

THEODORE  O.  WEDEL 

Canon  of  Washington  Cathedral  and 
Warden  of  the  College  of  Preachers, 
Washington,  D.C. 
Exposition   Ephesians 


ROBERT  R.  WICKS 

Dean  Emeritus  of  the  University  Chapel, 
Princeton  University 
Exposition   Philippians 


ALLEN  WIKGREN 

Associate  Professor  of  New  Testament 
Language   and  Literature,  The  Divinity 
School  and  Federated  Theological  Faculty 
of  the  University  of  Chicago 
General  Article The  English  Bible 


AMOS  N.  WILDER 

Professor  of  New  Testament  Interpreta- 
tion, Chicago  Theological  Seminary  and 
Federated  Theological  Faculty  of  the 
University  of  Chicago 

General  Article The  Teaching  of 

Jesus:  II.  The  Sermon  on  the  Mount 
Introduction  and  Exegesis 

I,  II,  and  III  John 


ROLLAND  E.  WOLFE 

Professor  of  Biblical  Literature,  Western 
Reserve  University 
Introduction  and  Exegesis Micah 


G.  ERNEST  WRIGHT 

Professor  of  Old  Testament  History  and 
Theology,  McCormick  Theological  Semi- 
nary 

General  Article The  Faith  of  Israel 

Introduction  and  Exegesis 

Deuteronomy 


HOW  TO  USE  THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


The  Interpreter's  Bible  is  a  guidebook 
to  the  city  of  the  Bible.  To  some  readers  the 
Bible  is  a  foreign  city:  they  can  find  in  this 
commentary,  if  it  is  properly  used,  a  veri- 
table "open-sesame."  To  other  readers  the 
Bible  is  a  familiar  place:  even  they  may 
find  by  means  of  these  volumes  treasures 
which  they  never  dreamed  were  just  around 
the  corner.  The  Bible  has  towers  and  streets 
and  rivers,  plazas  and  libraries  and  shrines, 
incalculably  more  historic  and  lifegiving 
than  any  London  or  New  York.  It  amply 
justifies  a  multivolume  work,  involving 
twelve  years  of  labor  by  over  one  hundred 
exegetes  and  expositors,  with  a  commensu- 
rate outlay  of  money.  Justifies?  Nay,  re- 
quires it  in  every  century;  for  the  Bible 
offers  that  enrichment  and  fellowship  which 
other  cities  promise  but  fail  to  provide.  It 
is  more  than  a  "city  of  refuge":  it  is  the 
home  of  the  "beloved  community"  of  God 
in  Christ. 

Here  then  is  a  commentary  guidebook 
to  the  city  of  the  Bible.  How  is  the  guide- 
book planned?  How  should  it  be  used?  The 
editors  "have  a  concern,"  as  the  Quakers 
might  say,  that  The  Interpreter's  Bible 
shall  be  rightfully  employed,  and  that  none 
of  its  values  shall  be  missed.  The  general 
reader,  the  teacher,  and  the  preacher  of  the 
Bible,  if  they  understand  the  scheme  and 
purpose  of  these  volumes,  can  all  here  find 
unusual  resource. 

The  Prefaces 

Is  it  too  much  to  ask  that  the  Prefaces  be 
read?  In  many  a  book  the  preface  is  more 
than  the  front  door:  it  is  both  the  clue  to 
the  book's  intention  and  the  story  of  the 
author's  pilgrimage.  The  Prefaces  to  these 
volumes,  though  they  bear  two  individual 
names,  are  in  large  degree  the  statement  of 
editors  and  publishers.  There  the  reader 
is  told  that  this  work  travels  by  a  dual 
directional  beam,  honest  scholarship 
within  the  Protestant  evangelical  faith. 
Every  book  is  written  in  some  faith.  The 


cult  of  "objectivity"  would  be  empty  even 
if  it  were  possible,  for  only  faith  gives  con- 
tent to  any  study;  so  our  editors  and  con- 
tributors eagerly  confess,  as  men  under  a 
saving  conviction,  that  God  in  Christ  "for  us 
men,  and  for  our  salvation,  came  down  .  .  . 
and  was  made  man."  That  faith  itself  de- 
mands honesty  of  scholarship,  for  the  Spirit 
of  Christ  guides  men's  minds  without  coerc- 
ing them,  and  requires  that  we  "speak 
every  man  truth  with  his  neighbor."  The 
Bible  is  not  a  series  of  phonograph  records 
traced  on  helpless  human  wax  by  a  com- 
pulsive needle,  but  genuinely  an  inspiration 
from  which  new  light  breaks  age  on  age 
under  the  leading  of  that  selfsame  Spirit. 
The  Prefaces  tell  further  how  the  whole 
work  was  planned,  how  writers  were  chosen, 
why  liberty  of  interpretation  was  given 
them  under  what  gentle  constraints,  and 
the  rules  that  were  followed  in  the  arduous 
task  of  editing.  So  we  plead,  for  the  reader's 
own  understanding,  that  the  Prefaces  be 
read. 

The  Working  Page 

A  sequential  reading  of  the  whole  work 
is  probably  too  exacting  a  request.  Many  a 
reader  will  be  a  hard-pressed  teacher  or 
preacher  who  will  turn  in  the  Commentary 
to  the  page  that  bears  on  his  immediate 
task.  So  we  now  write  to  him.  The  working 
page  is  in  three  parts.  The  second  is  pend- 
ant on  the  first,  and  the  third  on  the  other 
two;  and  the  proper  method  of  study  is 
therefore  by  a  downward  movement  of  the 
eye. 

At  the  top  of  the  page,  in  clear  type,  the 
King  James  Version  and  the  Revised  Stand- 
ard Version  of  the  passage  under  considera- 
tion are  set  side  by  side.  Comparison  and 
contrast  can  thus  be  made  almost  at  a 
glance.  The  King  James  Version  is  not  only 
a  devotional  classic  in  its  own  enduring 
right,  which  in  majestic  cadence  worships 
God  in  the  beauty  of  holiness,  but  is  so 
inevitably  true  in  many  of  its  translations 


xvn 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


as  almost  to  have  added  new  power  to  the 
original  word.  For  this  reason,  and  because 
it  is  hallowed  in  memory,  it  is  placed  first 
on  each  working  page.  The  Revised  Stand- 
ard Version  stands  alongside  it  because,  by 
the  general  consent  of  scholars,  it  is  the 
most  accurate  revision  of  the  King  James 
Version;  and  one  which,  moreover,  has  been 
intent  on  preserving  the  priceless  values  of 
the  Tyndale-King  James  tradition.  As  com- 
pared with  prior  translations,  the  Revised 
Standard  Version  has  the  advantage  of  re- 
cently discovered  manuscripts  such  as  the 
papyri  obtained  by  Chester  Beatty,  and  the 
further  advantage  of  newer  knowledge  of 
the  original  languages  such  as  has  followed 
from  Adolf  Deissmann's  brilliant  deduction 
that  the  New  Testament  was  written  in 
koine  (vernacular)  Greek.  Contributors 
have  been  left  free  to  use  or  quote  from 
either  version.  Many  have  turned  to  the 
Revised  Standard  Version  because  that  pro- 
vides the  more  accurate  rendering.  Some- 
times a  contributor  has  stressed  a  difference 
between  the  two  versions;  sometimes  he  has 
proposed  a  third  translation.  At  such  junc- 
tures, to  conserve  time  and  space,  we  have 
not  asked  him  to  enter  into  lengthy  expla- 
nations. The  two  versions  themselves,  set 
side  by  side,  provide  the  key. 

Midway  in  the  working  page,  immedi- 
ately below  the  scripture  passage  under 
study,  is  the  Exegesis.  Many  readers,  even 
teachers  and  preachers,  are  prone  to  over- 
look the  setting  of  a  phrase  and  the  exact 
meaning  of  a  word.  A  reader  who  casts  his 
eye  on  a  line  of  scripture  and  accepts  what 
it  "seems  to  mean"  is  dealing  in  astrology  or 
pre-Copernican  astronomy  rather  than  in 
the  present  wonder  of  heavenly  truth. 
Truth  depends,  not  alone  on  accuracy  of 
meaning,  but  on  its  total  setting — on  what 
a  word  or  phrase  meant  for  its  original 
speaker  in  the  original  time  and  occasion. 
Such  neglect  of  meaning  has  become  a 
minor  scandal,  for  thus  the  Bible  has  been 
twisted  to  support  arbitrary  notions  and 
contemporary  trends: 

What  damned  error,  but  some  sober  brow 
Will  bless  it,  and  approve  it  with  a  text? 

The  reader  will  notice  that  the  expositors 
in  these  volumes,  though  the  editors  have 
given  them  a  large  liberty,  have  based  their 


interpretations  on  the  Exegesis.  In  no  other 
way  can  any  interpreter  "rightly"  divide 
"the  word  of  truth."  So  the  editors  plead  for 
a  careful  and  grateful  use  of  the  Exegesis. 
Preachers  who  thus  "search  the  Scriptures" 
will  gain  more,  and  better,  sermons  than 
they  lose. 

Below  the  Exegesis  is  the  Exposition.  The 
nature  and  strategy  of  these  interpretations 
should  be  understood,  for  otherwise  their 
resource  cannot  be  tapped.  They  are  not 
ready-made  outlines  for  sermons  or  ad- 
dresses, or  even  homilies  for  general  read- 
ing. Such  aids,  like  the  schoolboy's  "prop," 
could  be  the  defeat  of  knowledge  rather 
than  its  enhancement;  and  they  could  make 
Bible  teaching  a  poor  desultory  effort  or  a 
secondhand  purchase.  The  expositions  are 
rather  "openings":  they  point  a  path  rather 
than  impose  a  pattern.  They  are  not  a 
crutch,  but  a  spur.  They  hint  the  relevance 
of  the  Scriptures  for  our  time  and  for  all 
time,  and  they  invite  the  student  to  "take 
the  hint."  They  are  not  bereft  of  illustra- 
tion, for  one  of  the  values  of  these  volumes 
is  that  they  provide  both  an  index  and  a 
corpus  of  illustrative  material;  but  even  the 
illustrations  are  given  not  as  a  lift  for  lazy 
legs,  but  as  a  challenge  to  the  reader's  quest. 
The  exegetes  have  been  chosen  for  their 
knowledge,  honesty,  and  reverence;  the  ex- 
positors have  been  chosen  for  their  readi- 
ness to  be  true  to  the  Exegesis  and  for  their 
gift  of  kindling  suggestion.  So  for  the 
teacher  the  Expositions  are  not  an  ambu- 
lance but  a  guide.  Yet  the  average  reader 
will  find  in  them,  when  they  are  coupled 
with  the  scripture  text,  leading  in  his  medi- 
tations. 

The  Introductions 

But  though  the  average  owner  of  these 
volumes  may  turn  first,  because  of  the  neces- 
sities of  his  daily  task,  to  the  working  page, 
it  would  be  unfortunate  both  for  him  and 
for  those  whom  he  would  teach,  if  he  were 
content  to  stay  within  such  limits.  The 
Introductions  to  the  various  Bible  books 
are  an  invaluable  library,  especially  for  a 
teacher  of  the  Scriptures.  If  gathered  into 
one  volume  they  would  give  as  comprehen- 
sive knowledge  in  that  field  as  has  ever  been 
published  in  one  book.  They  answer  ques- 
tions which,  while  unanswered,  leave  the 


xvin 


HOW  TO  USE  THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


working  page  in  bondage.  Here  are  such 
questions:  Who  wrote  this  book?  When  was 
it  written?  Where  was  it  written?  Under 
what  conditions  and  in  the  midst  of  what 
events?  The  Holy  Spirit  does  not  denature 
a  writer's  personal  traits  or  make  him  ut- 
terly independent  of  his  time.  He  lives  in- 
deed under  the  aspect  of  eternity,  for  God 
is  pleased  to  use  him,  but  he  is  used  as  the 
servant  of  God  in  his  own  place  and  age. 
A  writer  in  our  time,  however  obedient  to 
the  divine  summons,  could  hardly  forbear 
any  mention  of  communism.  So  Bible 
writers  addressed  themselves  to  the  case  in 
point,  and  found  in  contemporary  events 
God's  stern  or  gentle  providence.  The  In- 
troductions answer  these  inescapable  ques- 
tions. So  a  wise  reader  will  regard  the  words 
"See  Intro."  as  a  command  to  be  eagerly 
obeyed. 

The  Bible  teacher  in  particular  will  find 
the  Introductions  an  indispensable  aid. 
What  happenings,  God's  handwriting  in 
history,  brought  Amos  from  his  flocks  and 
sycamore  trees  to  the  king's  palace  and  the 
haunts  of  the  "prophets"?  What  appearance 
did  his  land  wear,  and  what  culture  pre- 
vailed? Amos  is  a  partly  closed  book  until 
such  questions  are  answered.  What  did  men 
believe  about  human  suffering  when  Job 
was  written,  and  what  travail  of  soul  gave 
us  that  sublime  drama?  What  history,  with 
its  successive  hammerings  of  conquest  until 
Israel  became  a  blood-stained  anvil,  pro- 
vides the  background  for  the  apocalypse  of 
Daniel?  What  transpirings  dictated  the 
mood  under  which  Paul  wrote  the  Epistle 
to  the  Romans?  Who  was  the  author  of 
Matthew,  and  when  was  that  book  com- 
posed: in  Jerusalem  about  seventy  years 
after  Jesus  as  scholars  long  supposed,  or  in 
Syria  toward  the  turn  of  the  first  century  as 
now  appears?  When  such  questions  are 
answered,  the  prayer 

O  may  these  heavenly  pages  be 

My  ever  dear  delight; 
And  still  new  beauties  may  I  see, 

And  still  increasing  light 

is  fulfilled;  and  the  preacher  or  teacher  be- 
comes "a  workman  that  needeth  not  to  be 
ashamed." 

There  is  danger  that  any  reader  of  the 
Bible  will  read  it  by  verses.  The  Introduc- 
tions, showing  the  relation  of  the  parts  to 


the  whole,  rescue  him  from  that  danger. 
There  were  no  verses  in  the  original  manu- 
scripts. Indeed  in  the  Greek  text  there  were 
no  spaces  between  the  words.  The  Synoptic 
Gospels  were  intended  for  the  instruction  of 
young  beginners  in  the  Christian  faith, 
and  were  written  in  stories  and  paragraphs 
rather  than  in  verses.  To  cite  another  in- 
stance: Deutero-Isaiah  consists  in  part  of 
"oracles" — stanza-jets  of  white-hot  prophecy. 
Perhaps  preachers  should  preach  on  the 
proper  units  of  Scripture  rather  than  on 
phrases  or  verses  torn,  sometimes  with 
violence  or  disfigurement,  from  their  con- 
text. Certainly  Bible  classes  and  congrega- 
tions would  be  edified  if  the  interpreter 
oftener  expounded  a  whole  book.  Then 
Jonah  would  be  seen  for  what  it  is,  a  stirring 
challenge  to  a  missionary  faith  that  shall 
make  the  whole  world  one  family  around 
the  feet  of  God.  Then  Luke-Acts  would  be 
seen  in  its  original  wholeness — the  deeds  of 
the  Spirit  of  Christ  recorded  in  proper 
sequel  to  his  deeds  in  the  flesh. 

There  are  two  other  features  of  the  Intro- 
duction that  give  outstanding  help.  First, 
there  is  an  outline  immediately  following 
the  title,  in  which  the  general  reader  or 
teacher  will  find  guidance  as  he  studies  what 
follows,  and  which  provides  a  pondered 
scheme  for  any  instruction  he  may  wish  to 
give.  Second,  there  is  a  good  bibliography 
at  the  end  of  each  Introduction,  whereby 
the  reader  may  pursue  further  study.  The 
Interpreters  Bible  is  vast  in  scope,  compris- 
ing in  all  about  eight  million  words;  but  it 
is  still  hardly  more  than  a  primer  when 
compared  with  all  that  has  been  written  on 
the  Scriptures  through  the  centuries.  There- 
fore the  bibliographies.  The  Introduction 
to  Matthew,  for  instance,  divides  the  bibli- 
ography into  three  parts — commentaries, 
other  works,  and  books  that  discuss  the  most 
important  ancient  sources.  So  the  editors 
earnestly  recommend  the  reading  of  the 
Introductions.  The  man  who  lives  only 
within  the  working  page  of  The  Interpre- 
ter's Bible  is  hardly  better  than  one  who 
knows  his  own  house  and  street  but  is 
ignorant  of  his  city. 

The  General  Articles 

Just  as  the  Introductions  provide  a  neces- 
sary background  for  the  working  page,  so 


xix 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


the  General  Articles  explain  and  illumine 
the  Introductions.  The  simile  in  the  preced- 
ing paragraph  could  be  extended:  the  man 
who  knows  his  own  city  without  knowing 
his  nation  and  world  would  still  be  igno- 
rant. Who  can  understand  Chicago  with- 
out any  knowledge  of  the  streams  of  immi- 
gration by  which  its  life  has  been  fed,  or  of 
the  prairies  and  lakes  that  sustain  it,  or  of 
its  problems  of  government?  But  many  a 
reader  of  the  Bible  is  correspondingly  igno- 
rant of  its  wider  setting.  This  hinterland  of 
Scripture  sustains  it,  almost  as  streams  of 
immigration  and  the  fertility  of  prairies 
maintain  an  American  city.  Take  the  in- 
stances. In  what  sense  is  Scripture  inspired? 
Two  articles  answer  that  question:  "The 
Bible:  Its  Significance  and  Authority";  and 
another,  which  is  actually  three  articles  in 
one,  "The  History  of  the  Interpretation  of 
the  Bible."  From  what  wider  history  has  the 
Old  Testament  come  to  us?  Two  articles 
satisfy  that  query:  "The  Old  Testament 
World"  and  "The  Faith  of  Israel/'  The 
former  shows  the  origins  of  the  Hebrew 
people  in  the  Fertile  Crescent,  and  how 
their  history  was  affected  by  the  political 
and  military  adventures  of  encompassing 
empires;  the  latter  provides  criteria  without 
which  no  reader  can  properly  judge  "the 
Law,  the  Prophets,  and  the  Writings/' 

Instances  regarding  the  New  Testament 
could  be  cited  with  as  sharp  or  sharper 
point.  Perhaps  Volume  VII  should  have 
been  entitled  Mark-Matthew,  and  Volume 
VIII  Luke-Acts.  The  editors  held  to  the 
traditional  order  lest  they  be  accused  of 
iconoclasm  or  hankering  after  novelty,  but 
the  new  titles  might  still  have  been  justified; 
for  sudden  illumination  falls  on  the  New 
Testament  when  the  reader  comes  to  terms 
with  the  chronological  order  of  its  books — 
many  of  the  epistles  first,  then  Mark  a  full 
generation  after  Jesus,  then  Luke-Acts  and 
Matthew  after  almost  another  generation, 
then  John  and  the  other  books.  Another 
wave  of  light  breaks  when  the  reader  real- 
izes that  not  the  epistles  only,  but  the  Gos- 
pels also,  stem  from  the  life  of  the  early 
church.  So  the  article  on  "The  Growth  of 
the  Gospels"  and  those  on  "The  History  of 
the  Early  Church"  are  literally  and  urgently 
a  "priority";  that  is  to  say,  an  indispensable 
asset  for  which  other  assets  must,  if  necessity 
dictates,  for  a  time  be  sacrificed.  Any  reader, 


student,  or  would-be  interpreter,  will  find 
added  value  in  the  General  Articles  in  that 
they  also  begin  with  a  synopsis  and  end 
with  a  bibliography. 

The  articles  instanced  are  not  more  valu- 
able than  the  others:  they  are  used  only  as 
example,  and  they  would  themselves  be  in- 
complete without  their  companion  articles. 
This  feature  alone  of  the  Commentary  com- 
prises about  half  a  million  words,  a  small 
library  in  itself.  The  order  of  the  articles 
and  their  location,  whether  in  Volume  I  or 
Volume  VII,  have  been  carefully  pondered; 
and  each  author  has  been  chosen  for  his 
knowledge  of  a  particular  field.  Here  as  in 
a  panorama  pass  in  review  the  history,  the 
tides  of  immigration,  the  world-terrain  of 
the  city  of  the  Scriptures.  If  a  reader  is 
ignorant  of  this  vast  and  teeming  hinter- 
land, the  Scriptures  may  baffle  rather  than 
inspire.  In  New  York  City  the  name  Stuy- 
vesant  Square  is  only  a  name  until  a  man 
knows  the  early  history  of  New  York,  the 
teeming  East  Side  with  its  belts  of  popula- 
tion, the  bond  between  the  U.S.A.  and 
Europe,  barges  on  the  Hudson  carrying 
coal  from  Pennsylvania,  and  grain  elevators 
fed  from  the  harvests  of  North  Dakota. 
This  illustration  is  not  invincible,  for  the 
Bible  has  a  power  of  its  own  to  pierce  man's 
ignorance;  but  that  power  finds  swifter  and 
surer  release  when  the  Bible  reader  knows 
the  background  of  the  Book. 

Maps  and  Indexes 

The  maps  in  The  Interpreter's  Bible  de- 
serve more  than  casual  mention.  They  pic- 
ture the  word-truth  of  working  page,  Intro- 
duction, and  General  Article.  For  when  the 
pilot  of  the  plane  says  through  the  loud- 
speaker, "Such-and-such  a  mountain  is  now 
on  our  right,"  the  passenger  can  say  to  him- 
self, if  he  has  a  map  before  him,  "I  see 
where  we  arel"  The  Interpreter's  Bible  pro- 
vides a  map  for  almost  every  book  of  the 
Bible.  These  are  in  black-and  white  outline 
for  clarity,  and  placed  in  proper  context. 
Certain  additional  maps  of  the  same  kind 
have  been  given,  such  as  that  of  Jerusalem 
in  New  Testament  times,  this  particular 
map  having  been  set  just  before  the  General 
Articles  in  Volume  VII.  There  are  also  four 
large  maps  in  color.  On  the  front  end-pages 
of  the  Old  Testament  volumes  is  a  color 


xx 


HOW  TO  USE  THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


map  of  the  early  Old  Testament  world, 
featuring  the  Fertile  Crescent;  and  on  the 
back  end-pages  of  the  same  volumes,  a  map 
of  Palestine  in  the  middle  period  of  Old 
Testament  history.  As  for  the  New  Testa- 
ment volumes,  the  color  map  on  the  front 
end-pages  shows  the  Eastern  Mediterranean 
world  in  New  Testament  times,  and  that  on 
the  back  end-pages  shows  Palestine  in  New 
Testament  times.  These  color  maps  have 
been  specially  drawn  for  The  Interpreter's 
Bible  in  such  a  way  as  to  emphasize  the 
land  contours.  The  maps  of  Palestine  are 
portrayed  as  if  seen  from  the  east,  from  "the 
wilderness  beyond  Jordan/'  because  the 
mountains  and  valleys  are  more  clearly 
marked  when  viewed  from  such  an  angle. 
By  the  help  of  these  maps  the  Bible  reader 
can  say  of  the  journey  of  Abraham  from 
Ur  of  the  Chaldees,  "I  see  where  he 
trekked";  and  of  the  fateful  travel  of  the 
man  who  "fell  among  thieves,"  he  can  ex- 
claim, "I  understand  now  how  he  went 
down  from  Jerusalem  to  Jericho!" 

The  Indexes  to  the  twelve  volumes,  found 
in  Volume  XII,  are  designed  for  their  prac- 
ticality. They  provide  far  more  than  an  aid 
to  reading  memory  or  a  ready-finder.  They 
are  a  guide  to  topical  study,  whether  the 
topic  be  theological,  historical,  or  homiletic, 
There  will  be  three  indexes  for  which  over 
three  hundred  and  fifty  pages  are  allotted. 
The  first  index  (first  in  importance,  though 
last  in  order)  is  general — so  named  and  so 
planned,  with  every  subject  and  name  ap- 
pearing in  its  alphabetical  place,  to  elimi- 
nate needless  shuttling  from  index  to  index; 
yet  so  implemented  with  subentries,  re- 
peated entries,  and  cross  references  that  one 
can  find  all  facets  of  such  topics  as  "redemp- 
tion," which  instantly  commend  themselves 
for  study,  carefully  displayed  under  one 
heading.  The  second  index  will  list  scrip- 
ture passages  referred  to  out  of  context,  so 
that  a  reader  studying  a  passage  in  Romans 
may  know,  for  example,  if  that  same  verse 
has  been  discussed  in  the  volume  on  Gala- 
tians.  No  attempt  has  been  made  to  avoid 
duplication,  as,  for  instance,  in  the  Exegesis 
and  Exposition  of  parallel  passages  in  the 
Synoptic  Gospels;  for  the  editors  have  felt 
that  such  duplication  adds  value  to  the 
Commentary  by  giving  two  interpretations 
(to  cite  a  case  in  point)  rather  than  one  o£ 
the  parable  of  the  lost  sheep.  The  third 


index  consists  of  illustrations.  There  is  a 
wealth  of  such  material  in  these  volumes, 
of  far  better  quality  and  far  vaster  scope 
than  any  "book  of  illustrations"  has  pro- 
vided; and  this  particular  index  offers  this 
wealth  at  quick  avail. 

A  house  in  Bruges  has  a  motto  inscribed 
on  a  rafter  near  the  front  door:  "There  Is 
More  Within."  This  brief  guide  to  The 
Interpreter's  Bible  only  echoes  that  motto 
or,  at  best,  only  summarizes  some  main 
values.  The  very  paper  on  which  the  Com- 
mentary is  printed  has  been  chosen  with 
costly  care  for  its  lasting  whiteness,  light- 
ness, and  strength; ,  and  the  bindings  like- 
wise have  durability  corresponding  to  their 
worthy  and  attractive  appearance.  Yet  these 
externals  only  hint  the  inner  treasure,  for 
there  is  hardly  a  page  that  does  not  lead 
out  and  on,  like  a  Columbus  voyage,  into 
a  new  world. 

There  is  only  one  Book.  That  Book  is  the 
noun;  other  books  are  but  poor  adjectives. 
God  renews  in  this  Book,  age  on  age,  his 
covenant  with  his  people.  For  fifty  or  sixty 
years  there  has  been,  at  least  in  the  English 
-language,  no  comprehensive  commentary 
on  the  Holy  Scriptures.  Now  comes  this 
Commentary,  with  better  manuscripts  as 
initial  resource  and  with  better  knowledge 
than  other  commentaries  could  have 
claimed.  It  appears  at  a  crucial  juncture  in 
history,  when  (if  our  human  eyes  can 
judge)  one  age  is  dying,  and  another  is  be- 
ing born  from  a  "holy  void.^No  age  Can 
safely  neglect  the  Book,  least  of  all  an  age 
in  transition;  for  an  age  that  has  struck  its 
tents  and  is  on  the  move  needs  even  more 
than  other  ages  a  pillar  of  cloud  by  day  and 
a  pillar  of  fire  by  night.  The  Bible  tells  of 
Israel,  the  chosen  people  through  whom 
God's  purpose  has  been  made  known  to 
our  world;  it  tells  of  Christ,  than  whom 
there  is  "no  other  name  ...  by  which  we 
must  be  saved."  There  are  signs  that  our 
era  is  turning  from  ruinous  doctrines  of 
self-help  to  a  new  obedience  to  God's  will 
and  power,  from  man's  exploitive  skill  to  a 
trust  in  God's  mercy  in  Jesus  Christ.  We 
pray  that  The  Interpreter's  Bible  may  has- 
ten that  turning,  and  prepare  the  way 
along  which  Christ  shall  come  to  reign  in 
love,  "King  of  kings,  and  Lord  of  lords." 
GEORGE  ARTHUR  BUTTRICK. 


xxi 


BOOK  EDITOR'S  PREFACE 


The  Interpreter's  Bible  is  presented  as 
the  embodiment  of  a  comprehensive  Chris- 
tian biblical  scholarship.  Eminent  scholars 
and  interpreters  living  in  different  parts 
of  the  world,  but  at  one  in  their  zeal 
for  truth,  have  been  drawn  upon  to  con- 
tribute to  this  Commentary.  The  list  of 
those  who  have  had  a  part  in  its  making 
is  a  roster  of  persons  renowned  for  distin- 
guished leadership  in  the  field  of  biblical 
interpretation.  To  each  of  these  contribu- 
tors every  encouragement  has  been  ex- 
tended by  the  Editorial  Board,  so  that  out 
of  the  richness  of  their  ripened  scholarship, 
and  out  of  the  warmth  of  their  expositional 
interpretation,  The  Interpreter's  Bible  may 
go  forth  to  accomplish  the  mission  for 
which  it  was  created — to  interpret  anew  the 
timeless  truth  of  God's  holy  Word. 

It  will  be  expected,  of  course,  that  among 
125  different  writers  there  will  be  a  certain 
diversity  of  interpretation,  not  only  about 
passages  of  Scripture  whose  meanings  have 
always  been  debated,  but  even  about  "ac- 
cepted" passages.  It  is  the  glory  of  Protes- 
tantism that  each  believer  has  the  right  to 
be  guided  by  his  own  mind  and  conscience 
under  God's  Spirit  in  matters  of  faith  and 
its  interpretation.  The  Protestant  principle 
of  "the  priesthood  of  all  believers"  so  af- 
firms, and  thus  grants  to  every  Christian 
the  right  to  hold  and  to  declare  his  own 
sense  of  Christian  truth,  provided  he  keeps 
within  the  bond  of  corporate  love  and 
prayer.  There  is  real  merit  in  honestly  dif- 
fering points  of  view,  granted  this  funda- 
mental concern  for  the  fellowship  of  be- 
lievers. 

This  advantage  has  been  sought  in  The 
Interpreter's  Bible.  Although  uniformity 
of  presentation  has  of  course  been  called 
for,  according  to  the  general  plan  of  the 
Commentary,  in  the  interpretation  itself 
the  exegetical  and  expository  skill  of  the 
separate  contributors  has  been  depended 


upon  to  have  full  play  in  all  those  ways 
which  would  make  for  a  deeper  apprecia- 
tion of  the  sacred  Word.  At  the  same  time 
every  effort  has  been  made  to  see  that  all 
interpretation  be  constructive  and  edifying, 
and  that  nothing  captious  or  capricious  ap- 
pear. The  writers  have  been  encouraged  to 
speak  the  truth  in  love  by  such  light  as 
God  has  given  to  their  reverent  and  dis- 
ciplined minds.  Truth  always  has  a  self- 
evidencing  power,  nowhere  more  so  than 
in  the  pages  of  sacred  Scripture,  and  the 
overwhelming  fact  is  not  that  Christian 
scholars  and  exegetes  differ  from  each  other 
in  interpreting  biblical  truth,  but  that  they 
so  heartily  agree  in  all  its  essentials. 

The  Bible  is  a  book  of  infinite  variety, 
and  both  those  who  would  read  and  those 
who  would  interpret  the  riches  of  its  truth 
must  be  prepared,  like  the  scribes  of  old,  to 
discover  within  it  treasures  both  new  and 
old.  The  thoughts  of  God  are  always  wider 
than  the  measure  of  man's  mind;  but  that 
mind,  with  understanding  reverence,  has 
the  power  given  it  by  the  Creator  to  read 
God's  thoughts  after  him  in  his  holy  Word. 

Long  ago  a  scholarly  father  of  the  church 
said  that  the  Bible  ought  to  be  read  by  the 
light  of  that  same  Spirit  through  whom  it 
was  written.  This  is  true,  and  of  all  men's 
interpretations  we  must  say, 

They  are  but  broken  lights  of  thee, 
And  thou,  O  Lord,  art  more  than  they. 

God  abides;  his  Word  abides;  and  his  Holy 
Spirit,  coming  imperceptibly  like  the  morn- 
ing light  or  in  sudden  lightning  flash,  is  the 
best  interpreter  of  his  Word.  So  from  many 
minds  and  much  labor  and  consecration 
this  great  work  goes  forth,  in  the  prayer 
that  it  may  redound  to  the  glory  of  God 
and  advance  the  cause  of  Christian  life  and 
truth  in  the  world. 

NOLAN  B.  HARMON 


xxm 


EDITOR'S    PREFACE 


For  fifty  years  no  full-scale  commentary 
has  been  produced  in  the  English  language 
on  the  whole  Bible.  Exegetical  studies  on 
the  one  hand  and  expository  aids  on  the 
other  have  appeared,  not  with  a  "great  gulf 
fixed"  between  them,  but  with  too  little 
mutual  concern.  Both  scholarship  and 
preaching  have  suffered  from  the  separa- 
tion: perhaps  scholarship  has  tended  to  bar- 
ren erudition,  and  preaching  to  "vain  imag- 
inings"— vain  because  of  somewhat  tenuous 
contact  with  the  meaning  of  Scripture. 
Preachers,  teachers,  and  other  students  of 
the  Bible  need  a  threefold  resource:  namely, 
introduction  to  Scripture  and  the  individ- 
ual books,  exegesis  of  the  text,  and  relevant 
exposition.  We  hope  not  only  that  The 
Interpreters  Bible  will  meet  this  need,  but 
that  it  may  disclose  unsuspected  treasures 
for  those  who  would  bring  forth  "things 
new  and  old"  from  the  "unsearchable 
riches"  of  the  Book. 

Recent  decades  have  seen  a  notable  in- 
crease in  biblical  knowledge.  New  manu- 
scripts of  portions  of  both  the  Old  and  the 
New  Testaments  have  been  found,  of  con- 
siderably earlier  date  than  those  on  which 
the  standard  text  had  previously  been 
based,  with  consequent  gain  both  in  textual 
study  and  historical  criticism.  Archaeology, 
the  scrutiny  of  ancient  papyri,  and  research 
in  comparative  philology  and  literature  and 
religion  have  all  thrown  light  on  the  mean- 
ing of  the  Scriptures.  Careful  and  reverent 
investigation  has  dated  the  various  books  of 
the  Bible  with  far  greater  accuracy  than  was 
formerly  possible;  and  this  new  chronology 
has  been  a  lamp  to  our  feet — as  witness  our 
fresh  understanding  of  Isaiah,  or  of  Mat- 
thew and  Luke  when  these  Gospels  are  com- 
pared with  their  Marcan  source.  Study  of 
the  text,  especially  in  the  light  of  Deiss- 
mann's  brilliant  realization  that  the  New 
Testament  manuscripts  are  written  in  ver- 
nacular rather  than  in  literary  Greek  or  in 
some  special  biblical  vehicle,  has  brought 
the  meaning  of  word  and  phrase  into 


sharper  focus.  Form  criticism  has  helped 
us  to  see  how  the  traditions  of  the  Hebrew 
fathers,  the  laws  of  the  priests,  the  poems 
of  the  prophets  and  psalmists  on  the  one 
hand,  and  the  records  of  the  teaching  of 
Jesus  on  the  other,  have  taken  form  and 
color,  perhaps  inevitably,  from  the  life- 
situation  respectively  of  the  Hebrew  com- 
munity and  the  first-century  church — an 
insight  that  is  our  gain  rather  than  our  loss. 
Above  all,  present  theological  trends  have 
confirmed  and  renewed  the  faith  of  the 
church  in  the  Bible  as  the  very  Word  of 
God.  So  revolutionary  is  this  whole  body 
of  knowledge  that  many  of  the  older  com* 
mentaries,  despite  their  integrity  in  labor, 
are  in  some  regards  out-of-date. 

But  more  than  scholarship  is  needed  in  a 
true  commentary.  The  gospel  is  eternal: 
from  age  to  age  we  may  catch  new  accents  in 
God's  Word  to  men,  but  the  Word  itself  is 
from  the  foundation  of  the  world.  Similarly 
we  may  trace  new  marvels  in  the  realm  of 
light,  as  astrology  gives  place  to  the  ever- 
growing wonder  of  astronomy,  but  the  light 
abides  unchanging,  blessing  all  men's  eyes, 
shining  in  every  lowly  place,  even  though 
we  may  understand  only  that  light  is  light. 
Growing  knowledge  about  the  Bible  is  not 
enough  to  save  us,  any  more  than  bricks 
are  enough  to  make  a  home.  The  Spirit  of 
the  crucified  and  risen  Lord  must  dwell  in 
the  knowledge,  or  the  knowledge  itself  be- 
comes a  prison.  Therefore  a  double  demand 
confronts  every  commentary  on  the  Scrip- 
tures: first,  to  be  true  to  the  clearer  under- 
standing that  waits  on  reverent  study,  since 
God  always  has  "new  light  to  break  from 
his  Word1';  and  second,  to  avow  its  unwa- 
vering fealty  to  God's  Incarnate  Word  by 
whose  forgiving  grace  all  men  live.  The 
Interpreters  Bible  earnestly  desires  to  meet 
this  double  demand:  it  would  be  honest  in 
the  truth  that  makes  men  free,  and  it  would 
cleave  to  the  evangel  of  Christ  born,  cruci- 
fied, and  risen  "for  us  men  and  for  our 
salvation." 


xxv 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


The  name  The  Interpreters  Bible  was 
chosen  not  only  because  it  shows  well  the 
purpose  of  these  volumes,  but  because  it 
carries  pleasing  echoes  of  "The  Interpreter's 
House"  where  Christian,  in  Bunyan's  in- 
spired record,  learned  the  deeper  meanings 
of  the  gospel.  The  editors  whose  names  ap- 
pear facing  the  title  page  of  the  Commen- 
tary have  come  from  different  denomina- 
tional backgrounds,  and  the  writers  repre- 
sent almost  every  branch  of  the  Christian 
church.  For  several  years  they  have  labored 
on  this  project,  with  a  sense  of  mission  and 
in  prayer.  Not  only  has  there  been  no 
difference  in  spirit;  there  has  been  mutual 
trust  deepening  into  friendship  in  the  grace 
of  Christ.  Thus  divergences  in  opinion 
have  only  added  zest,  comradeship,  and 
wisdom  in  the  task. 

Slowly  the  Commentary  has  grown. 
Thirty-six  consultants,  drawn  from  all  the 
larger  Protestant  groups  in  the  English- 
speaking  world,  helped  to  guide  the  initial 
steps.  The  titles  of  general  articles  and  the 
subjects  of  maps  were  determined.  A  style 
book  was  prepared  to  help  contributors 
and  to  give  consistency  in  form.  The  total 
number  of  words  in  the  Commentary  was 
estimated  at  approximately  eight  million. 
These  were  allotted  in  carefully  planned 
proportions  to  general  articles,  and  to  the 
introduction,  exegesis,  and  exposition  of 
the  separate  books  of  the  Bible.  The  con- 
tributors were  then  chosen;  they  represent 
the  best  exegetical  and  expository  skill  of 
our  time.  Manuscripts  were  carefully  read, 
in  each  instance  by  both  an  exegetical  and 
an  expository  editor,  and  changes  made  in 
co-operation  with  the  respective  authors. 
Questions  of  policy,  foreseen  and  unfore- 
seen, were  honestly  faced  and  carefully  an- 
swered. Type  forms  were  selected  for  the 
three-part  arrangement  of  text,  exegesis, 
and  exposition  which  itself  resulted  from 
the  study  of  twenty  samples.  Finally  the 
copy  for  the  first-published  volume,  Mat- 
thew-Mark, was  sent  to  the  printer — the 
"first  fruits"  of  long  labor  and  unrelin- 
quished hope. 

Some  further  remarks  on  the  page  format 
may  be  in  order,  for  here  also  the  Com- 
mentary breaks  new  ground,  in  line  with 
the  editorial  resolve  that  The  Interpreter's 
Bible  shall  provide  comprehensive  yet 


quickly  available  help  to  the  student  and 
teacher.  At  the  top  of  the  page  in  parallel 
columns  are  the  King  James  Version  and 
the  Revised  Standard  Version  of  the  scrip- 
ture passages  under  discussion,  so  that  the 
differences  in  the  two  versions  may  instantly 
be  seen.  Below  these  are  the  exegetical  com- 
ments, printed  across  the  page,  with  the  key 
phrases  struck  off  in  bolder  type,  like  the 
"notes"  appended  to  a  Shakespearean  text. 
Below  these  is  the  exposition,  printed  in 
two  columns,  and  so  written  that  it  may 
give  prompting  and  "opening"  to  the  in- 
terpreter. Each  book  of  the  Bible  is  prefaced 
by  a  succinct  but  well-informed  introduc- 
tion. General  articles  offer  similar  in- 
troduction to  the  whole  book.  A  wide 
roster  of  maps  gives  visual  aid.  The  Hebrew, 
Aramaic,  and  Greek  terms  are  quoted  where 
these  are  needed  for  clarity,  but  their  use 
has  been  held  to  a  minimum  in  favor  of  the 
easier-to-understand  "transliteration/*  We 
believe  that  the  reader  who  does  not  know 
the  original  languages  will  find  no  undue 
obstacle.  The  Hebrew  and  Greek  letter 
fonts  have  been  chosen  to  accord  with  the 
clear  and  attractive  Baskerville  type  of  the 
English  text. 

The  editor  would  be  recreant  in  debt  of 
gratitude  should  he  fail  to  acknowledge 
the  invaluable  help  of  his  colleagues.  The 
associate  editors  have  worked  unflaggingly, 
and  with  such  stanch  friendliness  that  it 
would  be  hard  to  imagine  a  more  kindling 
esprit  de  corps.  The  consulting  editors  not 
only  served  as  judicious  advisers  and  critics 
in  the  planning  of  fundamental  policies  but 
have  continued  to  provide  wise  counsel  and 
encouragement.  Contributors  have  exer- 
cised in  Christian  restraint  the  freedom  they 
have  been  gladly  accorded.  They  have  ex- 
pressed individual  conviction,  as  the  editors 
have  urged,  but  have  honored  differing 
convictions;  and  they  have  not  only  ac- 
cepted, but  have  sought  and  welcomed,  edi- 
torial suggestion.  Thomas  Nelson  and  Sons 
and  the  International  Council  of  Religious 
Education  have  given  outright  use  not  only 
of  the  Revised  Standard  Version  of  the  New 
Testament  already  published,  but  also  of 
the  earlier  drafts  and  the  final  version  of 
the  Old  Testament  while  still  in  prepara- 
tion— an  extraordinary  act  of  co-operation 
which  has  greatly  enhanced  the  value  of  the 


xxvi 


EDITOR'S  PREFACE 


Commentary.  Thomas  Nelson  and  Sons 
have  also  generously  granted  use  of  their 
black  and  white  maps  in  sufficient  number 
to  illuminate  each  book  of  the  Bible.  Mr. 
Emil  Lowenstein  has  prepared  the  excellent 
colored  "dimensional  maps"  for  the  end 
pages  of  the  volumes. 

Special  appreciation  has  been  earned  by 
the  publishers.  They  have  shown  as  true  a 
sense  of  mission  as  any  editor  or  writer. 
They  have  steadfastly  refused  to  spare  ex- 
pense, even  though  they  are  well  aware  that 
their  great  financial  investment  may  never 
be  returned  and  certainly  cannot  be  re- 
covered in  this  generation.  The  members 
of  their  official  Board  of  Publication  caught 
the  vision  of  service  to  all  Christendom, 
and  authorized  the  project  without  limita- 
tion upon  its  cost.  Dr.  B.  A.  Whitmore  and 
Dr.  Fred  D.  Stone,  Publishing  Agents  at  the 
time  of  its  inception,  and  Mr.  Lovick  Pierce 
and  Dr.  Roy  L.  Smith,  their  successors,  have 
given  wise  counsel  and  direction  to  the 
whole  endeavor.  Dr.  Nolan  B.  Harmon  has 
served  both  as  a  member  of  the  Editorial 
Board  and  in  his  official  capacity  as  Editor 
of  Abingdon-Cokesbury  Press.  Others 
should  be  mentioned  by  name:  Mr.  Pat 
Beaird,  manager  of  the  Press,  who  has  given 
able  over-all  guidance  and  enthusiasm;  Mr. 
Gordon  Duncan,  who  wrote  the  style  book 
and  has  provided  constant  help  in  that 
field;  the  Rev.  Charles  L,  Wallis,  who  is 
responsible  for  the  extensive  indexes  ap- 
pearing in  the  final  volume;  Mr.  E.  Sinclair 
Hertell,  who  has  corrected  the  copy;  Miss 
Bernice  Coller,  who  has  prepared  all 
manuscripts  for  the  printer  and  compassed 


the  exceedingly  hard  task  of  page-setting; 
and  Miss  Elizabeth  Stouffer,  who  has  been 
not  only  secretary  to  the  whole  Board  but 
also  a  competent  editorial  assistant.  A 
special  word  of  gratitude  is  due  the  printers, 
binders,  Linotype  operators,  proofreaders, 
and  others  who  have  contributed  their  skill 
and  by  their  eager  interest  become  partners 
in  the  enterprise.  It  is  difficult  to  believe 
that  any  endeavor  could  have  found  a  more 
harmonious  and  indefatigable  "task  force'* 
than  The  Interpreter's  Bible.  For  the  editor 
the  experience  will  always  be  a  spring  of 
gratitude. 

Surely  no  commentary  on  the  Bible  has 
appeared  at  a  more  crucial  juncture  in  his- 
tory. We  live  at  the  end  of  an  age.  Accus- 
tomed patterns  in  statecraft  and  commerce, 
as  in  the  church  itself,  are  dissolving:  "The 
old  order  changeth,  yielding  place  to  new." 
Only  dimly  can  any  man  foresee  the  "shape 
of  things  to  come."  But  one  truth  is  para- 
mount: God  has  spoken  once  and  for  all  in 
Jesus  Christ.  In  him  alone  can  the  world 
cohere.  Each  new  age  will  not  be  new,  but 
only  "chaos  and  old  night,"  if  it  does  not 
worship  Christ  as  Savior  and  sovereign 
Lord.  The  Holy  Scriptures  are  sun  by  day 
and  stars  by  night  in  every  era  of  man's 
pilgrimage.  Therefore  a  new  commentary 
on  the  Bible  is  both  timely  and  indispen- 
sable, for,  in  every  unknown  tomorrow, 
"thy  word  is  a  lamp  unto  my  feet."  It  is  our 
ardent  prayer  that  The  Interpreter's  Bible 
may  be  used  of  God  in  the  travail  of  our 
times  for  the  coming  of  the  kingdom  of 
his  Son. 

GEORGE  ARTHUR  BUTTRICK 


XXVll 


ABBREVIATIONS  AND  EXPLANATIONS 

ABBREVIATIONS 

Canonical  books  and  bibliographical  terms  are  abbreviated  according  to  common  usage 


Amer.  Trans.  —  The 
Bible,  An  American 
Translation,  Old  Tes- 
tament, ed.  J.  M.  P. 
Smith 

Apoc. — Apocrypha 

Aq. — Aquila 

ASV — American  Stand- 
ard Version  (1901) 

Barn. — Epistle  of  Bar- 
nabas 

Clem. — Clement 

C.T. — Consonantal  Text 

Did. — Didache 

Ecclus. — Ecclesiasticus 

ERV— English  Revised 
Version  (1881-85) 


Exeg. — Exegesis 
Expos. — Exposition 
Goodspeed—  The    Bible, 
An    American    Trans- 
lation,    New     Testa- 
ment and  Apocrypha, 
tr.    Edgar    J.    Good- 
speed 

Herm.  Vis.,  etc.— The 
Shepherd  of  Hernias: 
Visions,  Mandates,  Si- 
militudes 

Ign  Eph.,  etc. — Epistles 
of  Ignatius  to  the 
Ephesians,  Magnesi- 
ans,  Trallians,  Ro- 
mans, Philadelphians, 
Smyrnaeans,  and  Pol- 
ycarp 


KJV— King  James  Ver- 
sion (1611) 

LXX — Septuagint 

Mace. — Maccabees 

Moffatt — The  Bible,  A 
New  Translation,  by 
James  Moffatt 

M  T. — Masoretic    Text 

N.T. — New    Testament 

O.T. — Old  Testament 

Polyc.  Phil. — Epistle  of 
Polycarp  to  the  Phi- 
lippians 

Pseudep.  — Pseudep  igra- 
pha 

Pss.  Sol.— Psalms  of  Sol- 


— Revised  Standard 
Version  (1946-52) 

Samar. — Samaritan  re- 
cension 

Symm. — Symmachus 

Targ. — Targum 

Test.  Reuben,  etc. — 
Testament  of  Reuben, 
and  others  of  the 
Twelve  Patriarchs 

Theod. — Theodotion 

Tob—Tobit 

Vulg. — Vulgate 

Weymouth — The  New 
Testament  in  Modern 
Speech,  by  Richard 
Francis  Weymouth 

Wisd.  Sol. — Wisdom  of 
Solomon 


QUOTATIONS  AND  REFERENCES 


Boldface  type  in  Exegesis  and  Exposition  indi- 
cates a  quotation  from  either  the  King  James  or  the 
Revised  Standard  Version  of  the  passage  under 
discussion.  The  two  versions  are  distinguished  only 
when  attention  is  called  to  a  difference  between 
them.  Readings  of  other  versions  are  not  in  boldface 
type  and  are  regularly  identified. 

In  scripture  references  a  letter  (a,  b,  etc.)  ap- 
pended to  a  verse  number  indicates  a  clause  within 
the  verse;  an  additional  Greek  letter  indicates  a  sub- 
division within  the  clause.  When  no  book  is  named, 
the  book  under  discussion  is  understood. 


Arabic  numbers  connected  by  colons,  as  in  scrip- 
ture references,  indicate  chapters  and  verses  in 
deuterocanonical  and  noncanonical  works.  For  other 
ancient  writings  roman  numbers  indicate  major 
divisions,  arabic  numbers  subdivisions,  these  being 
connected  by  periods.  For  modern  works  a  roman 
number  and  an  arabic  number  connected  by  a 
comma  indicate  volume  and  page.  Bibliographical 
data  on  a  contemporary  work  cited  by  a  writer  may 
be  found  by  consulting  the  first  reference  to  the 
work  by  that  writer  (or  the  bibliography,  if  the 
writer  has  included  one) . 


GREEK  TRANSLITERATIONS 


=  ch 


=  th 


HEBREW  AND  ARAMAIC  TRANSLITERATIONS 

I.  HEBREW  ALPHABET 


i=y 


*(«  =  5 


s,  sh 
t,th 


Pure-long         Tone-long 
tor»=f 


II.  MASORETIC  POINTING 

Short           Composite  sh'wa  NOTE:  (a)  The  pdthah  furtive  is  trans- 

=  a                      —•  literated   as    a   riateph-pdthah.    (b) 

"  __                    ""*  —  •  ^^e  simpte  sh'wa,  when   vocal,   is 

v  ~  e                \~~  transliterated  «.  (c)  The  tonic  accent, 

.  =  ^  which    is    indicated    only    when    it 

=  o                     SB*  occurs  on  a  syllable  other  than  the 

T  __                   ""  last,  is  transliterated  by  an   acute 

\  "~  accent  over  the  vowel, 
xxviii 


TABLE    OF    CONTENTS 
VOLUME  I 


GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE  BIBLE 

THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY Herbert  H.  Farmer 3 

THE  FORMATION  AND  TRANSMISSION  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 

THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT Arthur  Jeffery 32 

TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT  .  Arthur  Jeffery 46 

THE  FORMATION  AND  TRANSMISSION  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 

THE  CANON  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT Edgar  J.  Goodspeed  ...  63 

TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT     Ernest  C.  Col'well 72 

THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE Allen  Wikgren 84 

HISTORY  OF  THE  INTERPRETATION  OF  THE  BIBLE: 

L  ANCIENT  PERIOD       Robert  M.  Grant 106 

II.  MEDIEVAL  AND  REFORMATION  PERIOD John  T.  McNettl 115 

III.  MODERN  PERIOD Samuel  Terrlen 127 

CHRONOLOGY,  METROLOGY,  ETC Georges AugustinEarrois  142 

THE  STUDY  OF  THE  BIBLE George  Arthur  Buttrick  165 


GENERAL  ARTICLES  ON  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 

THE  BOOKS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 

THE  LITERATURE  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT William  A.  Irtvin 175 

THE  GROWTH  OF  THE  HEXATEUCH Cuthbert  A.  Simpson  , .  185 

THE  PROPHETIC  LITERATURE Hughell  E.  W.  Fosbroke  201 

THE  WISDOM  LITERATURE William  A.  Irivin 212 

THE  LANGUAGE  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT Norman  H.  Snaith 220 

xxix 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 

THE  MEANING  AND  SIGNIFICANCE  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 

THE  OLD  TESTAMENT  WORLD William  F.  Albright  ...  233 

THE  HISTORY  OF  ISRAEL Theodore  H.  Robinson.  272 

THE  HISTORY  OF  THE  RELIGION  OF  ISRAEL James  Muiknburg  ....  292 

THE  FAITH  OF  ISRAEL G.  Ernest  Wright  ....  349 

THE  APOCRYPHA  AND  PSEUDEPIGRAPHA 

THE  LITERATURE  AND  RELIGION  OF  THE  APOCRYPHA.   ...  Robert  H.  Pfeiffer  —  391 

THE  LITERATURE  AND  RELIGION  OF  THE  PSEUDEPIGRAPHA.  Robert  H.  Pfeiffer 421 


THE  BOOK  OF  GENESIS 

INTRODUCTION  Cuthbert  A.  Simpson  . .  439 

EXPOSITION Walter  Russell  Bowie  . ,  458 

TEXT  46* 

EXEGESIS Cuthbert  A.  Simpson  . .  465 

THE  BOOK  OF  EXODUS 

INTRODUCTION  7*  Coert  Rylaarsdam  ...  833 

EXPOSITION J.Edgar  Park 849 

TEXT 851 

EXEGESIS /•  Coert  Rylaarsdam  ...  851 

MAPS 
JERUSALEM  IN  OLD  TESTAMENT  TIMES    2 

THE  ANCIENT  WORLD  174 

PALESTINE— I  AND  II  MACCABEES 390 

THE  WORLD  OF  I  AND  II  MACCABEES 420 

CANAAN   438 

THE  NATIONS  OF  THE  ANCIENT  WORLD 558 

EGYPT  AND  SINAI 832 

XXX 


GENERAL  ARTICLES 


on 
THE  BIBLE 


KEY 

ANCIENT  WALLS  (O.T. TIMES)  DISCOVERED 
ANCIENT  WALLS  REASONABLY  CONJECTURED     = 
ANCIENT  WALLS  DISCOVERED,  DATE  UNCERTAIN 
SCARPS  FOR  WALLS,  DATE  UNCERTAIN 
CONJECTURED  COURSE  OF  WALLS 
HERODIAN  AND  OTHER  LATE  WALLS 


c!](ST.STEPi 


r""~L-   (SUE  OF  THE      '^ 
\  f          )  CHURCH  OF          ^f- 


/,:  (ROBINSON'S 

fe*'*    'vi-'-vARCH) 
"^^,         "'       '  ' 


POSSIBLY  OCCUPIED 

IN  TIME  OF 
LATER  MONARCHY    gr:- 
OR  OF  MACCABEES    ^-"; 
(SECOND  CENTURY  RMS 


(ZION^GATE) 

^"'•<->""''" 

:'  MnllTO^"*' 

I;' |  POSSIBLY  OCCUPIED^: 


?•.'"  LATER  MONARCHY'' 
"'•      OR  OF  MACCABEES 


^>-.J  -U,>.2-^=CT'^. 


irni  1C  A I  CM I    ^%^--^S-  *N  «oai'VOT 
JtKU>ALtlVI  DRAGON'S  ?f^> 


IN  OLD  TESTAMENT  TIMES 

FEET 


500 

JEROME  S    KATES. 

CHESTER  C    MeCOWN    PH  D.,  »ei«o«h 
COPYRIGHT  1949  THOMAS  NELSON  AND  SONS 


THE  BIBLE:   ITS  SIGNIFICANCE 
AND  AUTHORITY 

by  HERBERT  H.  FARMER 


I.  Normal  or  Essential  Christianity 

A,  God's  Action  "into"  History 

B.  God's  Continuing  Action  in  Christ 

II.  The  Essence  of  the  Faith  Harmonious  with  the 
Content  and  Structure  of  the  Bible 

A.  Continuity-Discontinuity  in  the  Old  Testa- 
ment 

B.  Continuity-Discontinuity   Between   the   Old 
and  New  Testaments 

C.  Continuity-Discontinuity  in   the  Person  of 
Christ 

III.  The  Normative  Function  of  the  Bible  Within 
the  Church 
A.  The  Bible  as  Essential  to   the  Normative 

Relationship   of   the  Living   Christ  to  the 

Church 

From  the  earliest  period  of  its  history  the 
Christian  church  has  regarded  the  Scriptures  as 
being  in  some  sense  the  special  revelation  of 
God,  and  therefore  as  being  in  some  sense  the 
final  standard  or  norm  of  Christian  truth.  The 
Old  Testament  seems  to  have  been  accepted 
from  the  beginning  as  an  authoritative  revela- 
tion of  God,  and  it  was  not  very  long  before  the 
writings  which  came  ultimately  to  form  the 
New  Testament  were  also  in  circulation,  carry- 
ing a  similar,  though  not  precisely  assessed, 
authority.  No  consistent  or  unanimous  answer 
has,  however,  been  given  by  the  church  to  the 
question  in  what  sense  exactly  the  Scriptures 
are  the  revelation  of  God  and  the  standard  of 
truth.  This  article  is  intended  to  be  a  contribu- 
tion to  the  answering  of  this  question  as  it  con- 
fronts the  Christian  believer  today.  It  is  written 
from  the  angle  of  Christian  faith  and  experi- 
ence as  these  are  shared  and  known  within  the 
fellowship  of  the  Christian  church:  that  is  to 
say,  it  accepts  as  a  datum  the  uniquely  norma- 
tive status  which  the  church  has  always  assigned 
to  the  Bible,  and  it  endeavors  to  explore  its 
meaning  and  bearings  in  relation  to  the  Chris- 
tian faith  taken  as  a  whole.  In  other  words,  the 
question  of  the  Bible  is  here  considered  as  a 
theological  question;  the  answering  of  it  in- 
volves raising  the  question  as  to  what  the  Chris- 
tian faith  essentially  is,  for  only  on  that  basis 


1.  The  Trustworthiness  of  the  Gospel  Rec- 
ords 

2.  The  Gospels  as  Faith  Documents 

3.  How  Written  Records  Enter  into  Christ's 
Living  Relationship  to  the  Church 

B.  Limits  of  the  Canon 
IV.  The  Nature  of  the  Authority  of  the  Bible 

A.  The  Authority  of  the  Bible  Not  Different 
from  That  of  Christ 

B.  Some  Principles  of  Discrimination  and  In- 
terpretation 

C.  The  Bible  as  the  Word  of  God 

D.  The   Bible   as   the  Authoritative   Basis   of 
Preaching 

V.  Selected  Bibliography 


can  we  determine  the  essential  significance  and 
authority  of  the  Bible. 

It  is,  of  course,  possible  to  approach  the  Bible 
from  other  angles,  in  relation  to  other  interests 
and  beliefs.  The  books  of  the  Bible  are  so 
various,  and  cover  alike  in  their  origin  and 
content  so  vast  a  period  of  time,  that  they  pro- 
vide invaluable  material  for  the  historian,  the 
archaeologist,  the  anthropologist,  and  many 
others.  Each  of  these,  in  using  the  biblical  mate- 
rial, in  effect  asks  and  answers  the  question  of 
the  significance  and  authority  of  the  Bible  for 
his  particular  study.  Such  different  approaches 
may  provide  important  material  for  the  Chris- 
tian theologian  inquiring  into  the  significance 
and  authority  of  the  Bible  for  the  Christian 
faith;  indeed,  there  is  no  reason  why  the  Chris- 
tian theologian  himself  should  not  on  occasion 
study  the  Bible,  not  as  a  theologian,  but  as  a 
historian,  an  archaeologist,  or  an  anthropolo- 
gist. The  question  whether  in  pursuing  such 
studies  he  should  seek  to  divest  himself  of  his 
Christian  convictions  and  presuppositions  we 
need  not  explore.  The  point  is  that  however 
much  the  various  ways  of  studying  the  Bible 
may  interact,  the  special  interest  of  the  Chris- 
tian theologian  as  such,  and  the  one  which  gov- 
erns this  article,  remains  quite  distinct:  we 
raise  the  question  of  the  significance  and  author- 
ity of  the  Bible  as  part  of  the  wider  theological 


question  o£  the  essence  of  the  Christian  faith 
which  the  church  is  commissioned  to  proclaim 
to  the  world. 

This  being  the  line  of  approach,  we  are  im- 
mediately confronted  with  a  difficulty.  As  has 
been  said,  we  can  determine  in  what  sense  ex- 
actly the  Bible  has  the  pre-eminent  normative 
status  in  the  church's  life,  which  has  always  been 
given  to  it,  only  on  the  basis  of  our  general 
understanding  of  the  Christian  faith.  But,  it 
may  be  said,  if  the  Bible  has  such  a  status,  how 
can  we  reach  a  general  understanding  of  the 
essence  of  the  Christian  faith  prior  to  and  inde- 
pendently of  our  understanding  of  that  status? 
We  appear  to  be  involved  in  a  circle.  If  the 
Bible  is  the  final  standard,  then  we  can  know 
nothing  for  certain  concerning  the  essentials  of 
the  Christian  faith  apart  from  it;  yet  if  we  know 
nothing  for  certain  about  the  essentials  apart 
from  the  Bible,  how  can  we  know  for  certain 
this   particular   "essential/'   namely,   that   the 
Bible  is  such  a  standard,  and  how  can  we  know 
the  right  way  to  use  it  as  such  a  standard?  It  is 
obviously  no  way  out  of  the  difficulty  to  quote 
the  Bible  itself  as  an  authoritative  witness  to  its 
own  supreme  normative  status,  for  apart  from 
the  fact  that  it  makes  no  claim  to  such  a  status, 
it  is  clear  that  even  if  it  did,  to  concede  the  claim 
on  the  ground  of  its  own  ipse  dixit  would  be 
to  beg  the  whole  question.  (The  statement  made 
in  II  Tim.  3:16  cannot  be  taken  as  such  a  claim, 
for  it  gives  no  indication  as  to  what  exactly  is 
meant  by  the  words  "inspired  by  God/'  or  what 
writings   are   to  be  regarded  as  so  inspired. 
Furthermore,  the  verse  does  not  do  more  than 
declare  that  inspired  scripture  is  "profitable  for 
teaching,  for  reproof,  for  correction,  and  for 
training  in  righteousness" — a  statement  which 
nobody  would  wish  to  question,  whatever  his 
views  on  the  Bible  might  be.  To  declare  that 
certain  writings  are  profitable,  and  to  declare 
them  to  be  in  some  sense  a  final  standard  or 
norm,  are  two  very  different  things.) 

The  difficulty,  however,  is  more  apparent 
than  real,  and  arises  out  of  a  failure  to  dis- 
tinguish between  two  types  of  standard  or  norm. 
There  are  what  may  be  called  extrinsic  or  static 
norms,  and  there  are  what  may  be  called  in- 
trinsic or  organic  norms.  An  example  of  the 
former  is  the  measuring  rod  or  yardstick,  which 
exists  independently  of  the  objects  it  measures: 
it  is  brought  to  the  objects,  or  they  are  brought 
to  it,  and  the  transaction  being  concluded,  the 
two  continue  to  exist  independently.  An  ex- 
ample of  the  latter  is  the  indwelling  normative 
principle  which  informs  a  living  organism,  so 
that  it  grows  to  and  is  preserved  in  its  distinctive 
maturity  amidst  the  changes  and  challenges  of 
its  environment.  An  organism  has  within  it 
something  which  can  only  be  thought  of  as  a 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 

kind  of  "spirit  of  the  whole/'  which  keeps  all 
the  various  biochemical  processes  in  a  specific 
unity  or  balance  with  one  another.  Such  a  nor- 
mative principle  obviously  has  no  existence 
apart  from  the  organism,  and  the  organism  has 
no  existence  apart  from  it:  the  organic  processes, 
and  the  normative  principle  which  informs 
them  and  binds  them  into  a  unity,  though  dis- 
tinguishable in  thought,  constitute  a  single,  in- 
divisible reality.  A  better  example,  for  our  pur- 
pose, of  an  intrinsic  norm  (better  because  it 
takes  us  into  the  realm  of  the  personal)  is  that 
impalpable  and  indefinable,  but  very  real,  some- 
thing which  we  think  of  as  the  spirit  of  a  nation 
or  an  institution.  Such  a  statement  as  "It  is 
un-American,  or  un-English,  to  do  so-and-so" 
(despite  the  deplorable  misuse  to  which  it  is 
sometimes  put)  rests  on  the  recognition  of  a 
normative  factor  within  the  national  life  which 
is  really  "there/'  impossible  though  it  be  to  give 
it  either  precise  definition  or  exact  location. 
It  is  an  immanent  or  intrinsic  norm,  dwelling 
within  and  informing  a  people  in  a  character- 
istic way,  and  having  no  existence  whatever 
apart  from  them.  This  is  not  to  say  that  there 
are  no  explicit  formulations  of  the  norm  to 
which  appeal  can  be  made  when  occasion  de- 
mands. The  laws  of  a  people,  the  constitutional 
practice  (written  or  unwritten)  which  directs 
the  form  and  process  of  its  government,  its  re- 
corded history,  its  highest  and  most  distinctive 
cultural  products,  especially  its  literature — all 
these  are  in  large  degree  permanently  and  pub- 
licly accessible,  just  as  the  yardstick  is.  Never- 
theless the  norm,  even  in  its  written  expression, 
never  becomes — like  the  yardstick — extrinsic  to 
the  things  it  informs  and  measures,  for  nobody 
can  understand  it,  still  less  rightly  interpret  and 
use  it,  who  does  not  share  in  the  spirit  of  the 
people,  the  esprit  de  corps,  which  it  not  only 
expresses  but  also  creates  and  fosters. 

The  normative  relation  of  the  Bible  to  the  faith 
and  life  of  the  church  is  clearly  of  the  intrinsic 
kind.  It  is,  we  must  insist,  not  the  less  a  true 
norm  for  being  intrinsic;  indeed,  it  is  not  the 
less  a  final  norm,  in  the  sense  that  no  question 
of  faith  or  conduct  can  be  deemed  to  be  rightly 
determined  which  is  not  thought  out  with  the 
Bible,  as  it  were,  being  present  throughout  the 
discussion  and  taking  a  dominant  and  authorita- 
tive part  in  it.  Nevertheless,  what  the  Bible  says 
can  be  rightly  interpreted  only  by  those  who 
livingly  share  in  the  distinctively  Christian  life 
within  the  fellowship  of  the  church;  for  this  life, 
though  it  could  not  arise  or  be  preserved  with- 
out the  Bible,  always  includes  far  more  than  is 
or  ever  could  be  contained  in  or  expressed 
through  a  written  record.  These  are  matters 
which  will  be  more  fully  explored  in  the  course 
of  this  article;  it  is  enough  at  the  moment  to 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


insist  that  if  we  think  of  the  Bible  as  exercising 
an  intrinsically  normative  function  within  the 
life  of  the  church,  the  difficulty  about  circular 
reasoning  disappears.  If  it  is  true  that  we  can- 
not rightly  apprehend  the  essentials  of  the 
Christian  faith  and  life  without  using  the  Bible 
as  an  authoritative  source  and  norm,  it  is 
equally  true  that  we  cannot  apprehend  the 
Bible  as  such  a  source  and  norm,  still  less  rightly 
use  it,  apart  from  a  living  participation  in  the 
church's  faith  and  life.  This  is  not  to  argue  in 
a  circle,  because  the  Bible,  in  its  function  as 
norm,  and  the  church's  faith  and  life  are  or- 
ganically one,  and  form  a  single,  indivisible 
whole. 

This  suggests  the  plan  we  may  follow  in  seek- 
ing to  grasp  and  expound  the  significance  and 
authority  of  the  Bible.  We  shall  start  from  the 
thought  just  indicated,  that  the  Christian  faith 
and  life  as  manifested  within  and  sustained  by 
the  fellowship  of  the  church  constitute  an  or- 
ganic whole  which,  in  spite  of  its  many  variant 
developments  in  the  course  of  the  centuries  and 
its  many  aberrations  from  its  own  ideal,  has  per- 
sisted in  a  recognizably  distinct  form  through- 
out— a  whole  in  which  we  ourselves  now  share, 
and  within  which  the  Bible  has  an  immanently 
normative  place  and  function.  The  task  of  the 
Christian  will  then  be  so  to  expound  faith  that 
(a)  it  is  seen  to  be  in  harmony  with  the  actual 
content  of  the  Bible  itself,  for  clearly  if  what  is 
set  forth  as  "normal"  Christianity  (in  the  sense 
of  being  "regular  or  usual  or  not  deviating  from 
the  common  type")  is  not  in  harmony  with  what 
is  acknowledged  to  be  "normative"  (in  the  sense 
of  setting  up  a  standard) ,  then  the  unity  of  the 
organism  of  Christian  faith  and  life  is  seriously 
broken;  (b)  the  normative  function  of  the 
Bible  within  the  whole  is  fully  preserved  and 
explained;  and  (c)  the  way  in  which  that  nor- 
mative function  is  to  be  exercised  is  made  clear. 

The  plan  will  be  to  speak  first  of  the  essence 
of  the  Christian  faith,  and  then  to  develop  this 
in  relation  to  points  (a) ,  (b) ,  and  (c)  in  turn. 

I.  Normal  or  Essential  Christianity 

The  necessity  of  starting  from  the  thought 
of  the  Christian  faith  and  life  within  the  church 
as  an  organic  whole  might  suggest  that  nothing 
less  than  an  exposition  of  the  whole  content 
of  the  faith  is  required  if  we  are  to  understand 
the  significance  and  authority  of  the  Bible 
within  it.  Fortunately  that  is  not  so.  Just  be- 
cause we  are  dealing  with  an  organic  whole, 
and  are  particularly  interested  in  the  normative 
factors  within  it,  all  that  is  required  is  a  grasp 
of  that  central  and  controlling  truth  which  im- 
parts and  preserves  to  the  whole  its  specifically 
Christian  character,  distinguishing  it  once  and 
for  all  from  other  religious  "wholes,"  no  matter 


what  partial  identities  or  similarities  there  may 
otherwise  be. 

There  can  hardly  be  division  of  opinion  as 
to  what  this  central  and  controlling  "essence" 
of  Christian  faith  and  life  is.  It  is  belief  in  the 
Incarnation — the  conviction  that  God  himself 
came,  and  comes,  into  human  history  in  the 
person  of  Jesus  Christ.  Jesus  Christ  is   God 
himself  in  action  within  history  "for  us  men  and 
for  our  salvation,"  in  a  way  that  is  unique, 
final,  adequate,  and  indispensable.  "There  is 
none  other  name  under  heaven  given  among 
men,  whereby  we  must  be  saved"  (Acts  4:12)  ; 
"God  so  loved  the  world,  that  he  gave  his  only 
begotten  Son"  (John  3:16) ;  "God  was  in  Christ, 
reconciling  the  world  unto  himself"    (II  Cor. 
5:19).  There  have,  of  course,  been  great  differ- 
ences among  Christians  as  to  the  precise  signifi- 
cance and  implications  of  this  central  affirma- 
tion of  the  Incarnation,  the  grounds  for  making 
it,  the  way  in  which  the  divine  action  it  de- 
scribes is  wrought  out  in  men's  lives;  and  some 
have  interpreted  it  in  ways  that  have  seemed  to 
others  to  be  destructive  of  its  distinctively  Chris- 
tian meaning.  But  it  hardly  can  be  questioned 
that  unless  a  man  is  prepared  to  make  the 
affirmation  in  some  sense  or  other,  then,  no 
matter  how  much  he  may  in  fact  owe  to  Chris- 
tian teaching,  or  may  accept  and  exemplify 
Christian  moral  values,  any  claim  he  may  make 
to  be  a  specifically  Christian  believer,  with  a 
specifically  Christian  gospel  to  preach,  is,  to  say 
the  least,   extremely  dubious.   This  is  not  a 
merely  personal  view;  on  the  contrary,  it  is 
hardly  more  than  a  report  of  evident  historical 
truth.  However  much  and  rightly  we  may  dis- 
like heresy  hunting,  and  whatever  difficulty  may 
arise  in  border  line  cases,  the  fact  remains  that 
the  belief  in  the  Incarnation  has  been  the  cen- 
tral,   distinctive,   all-controlling  belief   of   the 
Christian  movement  all  down  the  ages;  it  is  the 
heart  and  center  of  what  may  be  called  "his- 
toric"   Christianity,    meaning  by   that   simply 
Christianity  as  a  movement  having  a  distinctive 
character  and  being  identifiable  as  such,  in  spite 
of  all  its  variant  and  even  conflicting  forms, 
throughout  the  centuries. 

The  statement  of  the  dogma  of  the  Incarna- 
tion just  made— that  God  himself  came,  and 
comes,  into  human  history  in  the  person  of 
Jesus  Christ — does  not,  however,  suffice  without 
further  explication  to  bring  out  the  distinctive 
essence  of  the  Christian  faith  as  this  is  deter- 
minative of  the  significance  and  authority  of  the 
Bible  within  it.  To  do  this  we  must  concentrate 
on  two  things  in  the  statement — the  word 
"into"  and  the  phrase  "came,  and  comes."  We 
shall  take  each  in  turn. 

A.  God's  Action  "into9'  History. — There  are 
two  ways  in  which  the  word  "into"  might  be 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


interpreted.  These  may  be  made  plain  by  a 
somewhat  fantastic  illustration,  Suppose  that 
I  am  dropped  from  an  airplane  into  the  midst 
of  a  savage  people,  with  the  commission  to  trans- 
form their  life  into  something  very  much 
higher,  and  suppose  that  I  am  given  power  to 
effect  whatsoever  I  will.  I  am,  as  it  were,  a 
savior  come  down  "for  these  men  and  for  their 
salvation."  How  shall  I  go  to  work?  I  can  do 
either  of  two  things. 

In  the  first  place,  I  can,  if  I  choose,  put  into 
operation  at  once  the  higher  civilized  life  which 
I  represent.  Using  the  unlimited  resources  at 
my  disposal,  I  can  break  up  the  tribal  organiza- 
tion of  these  people,  pour  scorn  on  their  tradi- 
tions, prohibit  their  low  moral  codes,  annihilate 
their  primitive  culture — in  one  gigantic  up- 
heaval and  revolution  pound  everything  to 
pieces  and  then  force  the  pieces  into  the  mold 
of  my  own  plans  and  ideals.  Suppose  that,  im- 
possible though  it  is,  I  succeed  in  doing  this. 
Is  it  not  clear  that  while  in  one  sense  I  have 
acted  into  their  history,  in  another  sense  I  have 
not  acted  into  their  history  at  all?  For  what  I 
have  done  is  to  negate  and  annihilate  their 
history  and  put  something  radically  discontinu- 
ous and  new  in  its  place.  To  make  what  may 
seem  a  fine  distinction — though  it  is  really  an 
important  one  and  exactly  expresses  the  point — 
my  coming  as  their  savior  has  been  into  their 
history,  but  not  in  and  through  it:  it  has  been, 
as  it  were,  down  the  vertical,  but  not  along  the 
horizontal.  In  a  similar  way,  a  bomb  which 
drops  from  the  sky  and  destroys  my  house,  while 
in  one  sense  it  is  an  event  in  the  history  of  the 
house,  in  another  sense  it  is  not,  for  it  is  in  fact 
the  end  of  the  history  of  the  house.  There  is 
"before"  but  no  "after";  indeed,  strictly  speak- 
ing, there  is  no  "before,"  for  nothing  in  its 
previous  history  had  anything  to  do  with  the 
coming  of  the  bomb.  That  dropped  from  the 
skies,  a  bolt  from  the  blue. 

The  alternative  line  of  action  has  already 
been  indicated  by  contrast.  Instead  of  annihilat- 
ing the  tribe's  whole  manner  of  life,  I  may  take 
the  trouble  to  "get  inside"  it,  to  make  myself 
one  with  it,  to  work  from  within  it,  to  re-create 
it  on  the  basis  of  whatsoever  there  is  of  good 
in  it,  whatsoever  is  usable  in  relation  to  the 
higher  mode  of  life  to  which  I  am  commissioned 
to  lift  it.  The  effect  of  this  will  be  that  the  new 
mode  of  life,  though  new,  will  still  have  the 
impress  of  the  tribe's  own  distinctive  history 
and  character  upon  it.  It  will  be  saving  action 
not  merely  into  their  history,  but  also  in  and 
through  it.  There  will  be  continuity  between 
the  new  life  and  the  old — the  pattern  will,  so 
to  speak,  run  on,  the  fabric  will  come  off  the 
loom  in  one  piece;  it  will  still  be  their  history. 
And  yet  at  the  same  time  there  will  be  radical 


discontinuity,  for  my  dropping  from  the  air- 
plane, and  all  that  I  bring  with  me,  will  not 
have  been  anything  that  their  previous  history 
could  have  produced  by  itself.  If  I  had  not 
dropped  from  above,  their  history  would  have 
continued  indefinitely  on  its  former  degraded 
level.  There  is  continuity,  yet  also  discontinuity. 

To  return  now  to  the  fundamental  Christian 
affirmation  of  the  Incarnation.  The  Christian 
faith,  when  it  has  been  true  to  itself,  has  always 
maintained  that  God's  saving  action  in  Christ 
was  along  the  line  of  the  second  alternative  in 
our  fantastic  parallel.  It  was  action  into  history 
in  that  Christ's  coming  was  something  radically 
new,  an  irruption  "vertically"  from  above, 
something  which,  without  God's  deliberate  in- 
tention thus  personally  to  come  among  men, 
could  not  have  happened,  something  utterly  be- 
yond the  resources  of  human  history  to  bring 
forth.  On  the  other  hand,  it  was  also  action  in 
and  through  history — along  the  "horizontal": 
there  was  real  continuity  with  what  had  gone 
before  in  the  ordinary  web  and  texture  of  hu- 
man affairs,  and  with  what  came  afterward. 
The  Incarnation  was  real  history,  yet  not 
merely  history:  there  was  real  continuity,  yet 
also  radical  discontinuity. 

The  phrase  "when  it  has  been  true  to  itself," 
which  was  used  at  the  beginning  of  the  last 
paragraph,  may  sound  somewhat  question  beg- 
ging. But  if  we  allow  Christianity  to  define 
itself  by  its  own  dominant  historical  manifesta- 
tions, there  can  be  no  question  that  the  insist- 
ence on  both  the  "into"  and  the  "in  and 
through"  aspects  of  the  Incarnation — the  re- 
pudiation on  the  one  hand  of  any  tendency  to 
assert  discontinuity  at  the  expense  of  continuity, 
and  on  the  other  hand  of  any  tendency  to  assert 
continuity  at  the  expense  of  discontinuity — has 
characterized  the  main  tradition  of  the  faith. 
And  this  is  the  more  clear  when  we  realize  that 
this  main  tradition  has  had  continually  to  assert 
itself  against  the  two  opposed  tendencies  just 
referred  to,  both  in  their  obvious  and  more 
subtle  forms — just  as  in  the  compass  the  hold- 
ing power  of  the  magnetic  north  is  most  clearly 
evidenced  by  the  oscillations  of  the  needle  on 
either  side  of  it.  Thus  the  distinction  usually 
drawn  between  the  Antiochian  and  the  Alex- 
andrian schools  of  christological  thought  in  the 
early  centuries  obviously  represents  in  a  broad 
way  the  two  sides  of  the  antithesis.  The  Anti- 
ochian school  tended  to  lay  the  major  emphasis 
on  the  humanity  of  Jesus — that  is,  on  his  con- 
tinuity with  history.  The  extreme  wing  of  this 
school  was  adoptionism,  with  its  teaching  that 
Jesus  was  merely  an  unusually  good  man  in 
whom  the  divine  Spirit  was  able  to  dwell  in 
greater  degree  than  in  other  men,  though  not 
in  a  way  that  was  essentially  different — which 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


comes  as  near  to  denying  discontinuity  as  is  com- 
patible with  making  any  plausible  claim  to  a 
distinctively  Christian  gospel  of  the  Incarna- 
tion. The  Alexandrian  school  tended  to  lay 
the  major  emphasis  on  the  divinity  of  Jesus, 
that  is,  on  his  discontinuity  with  history.  On  the 
extreme  wing  of  this  school  was  Docetism,  with 
its  assertion  that  the  human  side  of  Jesus  was 
mere  "seeming,"  a  phantasm  of  humanity — 
which  comes  as  near  denying  continuity  as  is 
compatible  with  making  any  plausible  claim  to 
a  distinctively  Christian  gospel  of  the  Incarna- 
tion. In  the  end  the  problem  defined  itself 
(as  the  Formula  of  Chalcedon  Indicates)  as 
the  problem  of  asserting  both  the  continuity 
and  the  discontinuity — the  genuine  humanity 
rooted  in  history  and  the  genuinely  divine  ir- 
ruption "into"  history — without  impairing  the 
unity  of  the  Savior's  person.  In  our  own  day  it 
is  possible  to  discern  the  same  tension  between 
continuity  and  discontinuity.  Labels  can  be  very 
unjust  to  individual  thinkers,  but  broadly 
speaking,  the  reaction  of  the  movement  associ- 
ated with  the  name  of  Karl  Barth,  against  what 
is  vaguely  called  liberal  Protestantism,  as  repre- 
sented, say,  by  Ernst  Troeltsch  or  Adolf  von 
Harnack,  is,  especially  in  the  realm  of  Christol- 
ogy,  the  vigorous  reassertion  of  discontinuity 
against  a  too  exclusive  emphasis  on  continuity; 
of  the  "into"  or  "vertical"  against  a  falsifying 
preoccupation  with  the  "in  and  through"  or 
"horizontal"  (see  below,  p.  11). 

B,  God's  Continuing  Action  in  Christ. — It 
was  said  above  that  God  came,  and  comes,  into 
human  history  in  the  person  of  Jesus  Christ. 
The  phrase  "and  comes"  is  important. 

The  Christian  faith  affirms  that  God's  saving 
action  "into"  and  "in  and  through"  history  in 
Jesus  Christ  did  not  come  to  an  end  with  the 
death  of  Jesus  on  Calvary.  The  action  still  con- 
tinues. It  is  still  going  on  through  the  church, 
of  which  Christ  is  the  living  head,  and  in  which 
he  is  present  through  the  Holy  Spirit  as  the 
creative  and  constitutive  principle  of  its  being 
and  life.  There  are  deep  theological  problems 
involved  in  this  affirmation,  into  which  it  is 
not  our  business  to  enter  here;  but  there  can  be 
no  question  that  this  conviction  of  the  continu- 
ing, redeeming  presence  of  Christ  in  the  world 
is  axiomatic  in  the  Christian  faith  and  life.  It 
is  only  in  relation  to  this  belief  that  the  mean- 
ing and  the  centrality  of  the  Resurrection  in 
the  Christian  gospel  can  be  understood.  The 
essence  of  the  Christian  faith  concerning  the 
Resurrection,  as  it  is  set  forth  in  the  New 
Testament,  is  not  that  Christ  survived  death 
according  to  some  general  capacity  for  survival 
inherent  in  the  human  soul  as  such,  but  rather 
that  God  raised  him  up;  that  is  to  say,  the 
Resurrection  was  part  of  God's  mighty  act  of 


redemption  to  save  mankind  and  establish  his 
kingdom.  Furthermore,  it  is  part  of  the  same 
act  of  redemption  that  Christ  thus  raised  up 
has  not  passed  into  the  "beyond/'  out  of  touch 
with  men  except  as  an  inspiring  memory.  On 
the  contrary,  he  has  been  raised  to  "God's  right 
hand,"  and  this  means  that  he  is  now  accessible, 
as  a  living,  active  presence  mediated  through 
the  Holy  Spirit,  to  all  who  give  themselves  to 
him  in  discipleship  and  faith. 

We  may  put  it  like  this:  the  Resurrection 
and  the  Ascension  constitute  the  link  between 
two  periods  in  the  continuous  "biography"  of 
the  Redeemer — the  period  in  which  he  dwelt 
among  men  in  the  flesh,  subject  to  the  limita- 
tions of  time  and  space,  and  of  which  the  culmi- 
nation was  his  crucifixion  and  burial,  and  the 
period  in  which  in  some  mysterious  way  he 
transcends  those  limits  and  becomes  the  unseen 
and  living  Lord  and  Savior  of  all  who  hear  his 
call  and  seek  to  obey  it  in  penitence  and  trust 
and  in  mutual  love.  It  would  be  misleading,  if 
natural,  to  say  that  the  first  period  was  the 
earthly  period  while  the  second  is  the  heavenly, 
for  in  both  the  sphere  of  his  saving  work,  of 
God's  saving  action  in  him,  is  human  life  and 
human  history.  From  this  point  of  view  it  is 
legitimate  to  say  that  the  Christian  church  as 
the  fellowship  created  and  sustained  in  history 
by  Christ  through  the  Holy  Spirit  is  the  exten- 
sion of  the  Incarnation.  In  this  sense  the  church 
is  part  of  the  historical  biography  of  Christ. 

In  the  light  of  this  understanding  of  the 
essential  Christian  faith  we  can  now  take  up 
the  question  of  the  significance  and  authority 
of  the  Bible  within  the  total  organism  of  the 
church's  life.  Each  of  the  three  points  (a) ,  (b) , 
and  (c) ,  set  forth  above,  will  be  considered  in 
turn: 

11.  The  Essence  of  the  Faith  Harmonious  with 
the  Content  and  Structure  of  the  Bible 

It  was  said  that  our  task  must  be  so  to  under- 
stand the  Christian  faith  that  we  can  see  it  to 
be  deeply  grounded  in  and  harmonious  with 
the  content  of  the  Bible,  for  otherwise  typical 
Christianity  would  not  be  in  accord  with  its 
own  acknowledged  norm,  and  the  unity  of  the 
organism  of  Christian  faith  and  life  would  be 
seriously  disrupted. 

If  then  we  concentrate  on  the  central  truth 
of  the  Incarnation,  and  in  particular  on  its  dual 
aspect  of  continuity-discontinuity,  we  find  that 
this  is  in  fact  very  deeply  grounded  in  the  whole 
structure  and  content  of  the  Bible.  Indeed,  the 
Bible  might  be  said  to  be  built  up  throughout, 
in  a  way  that  is  quite  without  parallel,  on  the 
continuity-discontinuity  theme,  the  theme  be- 
ginning with  ancient  Israel  and  reaching  its 
consummation  (at  the  same  time  disclosing  its 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


deep,  underlying  meaning)  in  the  divine  saving 
action  in  Christ.  This  may  be  expounded  under 
three  heads. 

A,  Continuity-Discontinuity  in  the  Old  Testa- 
went. — The  picture  of  the  people  of  Israel  with 
which  the  Old  Testament  presents  us  through 
the  wide  variety  of  its  contents — historical  nar- 
ratives, legal  and  liturgical  codes,  poetry, 
hymns,  proverbs  and  maxims,  utterances  of 
great  prophetic  souls  speaking  in  the  name  of 
God— is  obviously  the  picture  of  a  people  whose 
life  is  continuous  with  the  life  of  mankind  gen- 
erally. This  is  true  in  the  first  place  in  respect 
of  the  ordinary  human  nature  of  the  persons 
concerned.  To  enter  into  the  world  of  ancient 
Israel  as  it  is  disclosed  to  us  in  the  pages  of  the 
Old  Testament  is  to  enter  the  same  world  of 
human  actions  and  motives,  loves  and  hates,  pas- 
sions and  sins,  hopes  and  fears,  as  we  ourselves 
know:  the  people  and  the  situations  which  con- 
front them  are  recognizably  "everyman"  and 
the  situation  of  "everyman."  This  is  one  reason 
why  the  Old  Testament  can  still  come  alive  for 
— and  speak  to — the  perceptive  and  receptive 
mind  today;  and  one  reason  also  why  it  can 
always  be  read,  if  anyone  chooses,  simply  as 
great  literature.  In  the  second  place,  it  is  true 
in  respect  of  the  forces  which  play  upon  Israel 
as  a  nation  and  determine  the  course  of  its  his- 
tory. To  understand  the  history  of  Israel  it  is  as 
necessary  to  take  note  of  the  economic,  social, 
political,  international  forces  which  were  operat- 
ing in  the  ancient  world  as  it  would  be  to  un- 
derstand the  history  of  any  other  people  of  that 
time;  we  must  know  something  of  Egypt,  Assyria, 
Babylon,  Rome,  of  Sennacherib,  Cyrus,  Darius, 
and  Alexander.  The  history  of  Israel  thus  takes 
its  place  in  and  is  continuous  with  what  may  be 
called  the  wider  secular  history  of  mankind, 
and  can  be  studied  by  the  methods  of  ordinary 
historical  inquiry. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  picture  is  equally,  and 
indeed  much  more,  the  picture  of  a  people 
whose  life  is  profoundly  discontinuous  with 
the  life  of  the  rest  of  mankind.  This  profound 
discontinuity  comes  to  expression  in  the  quite 
distinctive  religious  idea  and  experience  of 
"the  covenant."  Covenant  signifies  a  relation- 
ship of  a  personal  and  ethical  kind  which  God, 
who  has  all  peoples  and  all  history  in  his  grasp, 
has  entered  into  with  Israel,  and  with  Israel 
alone,  in  order  to  fulfill  his  purpose  in  the 
world.  God  himself  has  taken  the  initiative  in 
setting  up  this  relationship,  which,  because  it 
is  set  up  with  Israel  only,  puts  that  people,  in 
respect  of  the  forces  which  determine  its  history, 
in  a  position  of  radical  discontinuity  with  the 
rest  of  the  world.  It  is  a  people  apart,  the  chosen 
people,  marked  out  by  God  for  signal  honor 
and  responsibility.  By  great  acts  of  deliverance 


and  disciplinary  judgment,  and  through  the 
mouths  of  prophets  and  teachers  whom  he  in- 
spires to  interpret  those  acts,  God  calls  and  con- 
tinually recalls  the  people  of  Israel  into  obedi- 
ence to  and  trust  in  himself,  promising  them, 
as  they  respond  to  the  call,  his  blessing  and 
guidance  so  that  they  may  in  turn  be  a  blessing 
and  a  guide  to  men.  This  strange,  deep  notion 
of  the  covenant  relationship  thus  focuses  in 
itself  four  elements  which  taken  together  form 
the  heart  and  kernel  of  Old  Testament  religion: 
the  apprehension  of  the  one  God  as  (a)  per- 
sonal, (b)  actively  working  out  a  purpose  in 
history,  (c)  taking  the  initiative  in  making  him- 
self known  to  men,  so  that  they  can  in  some 
measure  co-operate  with  and  understand  his 
activity  in  history,  and  (d)  calling  a  particular 
community  into  a  unique  relationship  with 
himself  so  that  it  may  be  his  agent  in  the  world. 
JB.  Continuity -Discontinuity  Between  the  Old 
and  New  Testaments. — There  is  a  second  and 
even  more  deep-going  continuity-discontinuity 
which  the  Bible  exhibits  to  us:  it  comes  into 
being,  as  it  were,  within  the  first.  The  covenant 
community  of  Israel,  which  God  called  out  from 
and  so  made  discontinuous  with  the  rest  of  man- 
kind, is  set  before  us  as  failing  to  respond  fully 
to  that  call.  In  varying  ways  and  degrees,  with 
recurrent  backslidings  after  partial  and  tem- 
porary recoveries,  it  goes  counter  to  the  divine 
purpose,  so  that  if  it  serves  the  divine  purpose 
at  all  it  does  so  very  imperfectly,  and  then 
not  so  much  as  a  willing  agent  as  an  unwilling, 
and  even  unwitting,  instrument.  Nevertheless, 
the  divine  purpose  of  saving  the  world  through 
the  elect  people  of  Israel,  being  divine,  cannot 
really  be  frustrated.  By  a  new  initiative  in  the 
coming  of  Christ,  God  brings  into  being  in  the 
midst  and  out  of  the  midst  of  the  old  covenant 
people  a  new  covenant  people,  a  new  Israel,  to 
be  what  the  old  Israel  had  been  called,  but  had 
failed,  to  be  (except  in  the  prayers  and  hopes 
of  a  remnant  of  elect  souls) :  namely,  the  servant 
and  medium  of  his  redeeming  purpose  toward 
mankind — to  be  "a  chosen  race,  a  royal  priest- 
hood, a  holy  nation,  God's  own  people,"  that 
they  might  "declare  the  wonderful  deeds  of  him 
who  called  [them]  out  of  darkness  into  his 
marvelous  light"  (I  Pet.  2:9;  cf.  also  Exod. 
19:5-6) .  This  new  divine  initiative  and  its 
decisive  significance  are  emphasized  in  the 
sharpest  possible  way  by  the  break  in  the  Bible 
between  the  Old  and  New  Testaments.  "Testa- 
ment" means  "covenant/1  so  that  the  Old  Tes- 
tament should  in  strictness  be  called  the  scrip- 
tures of  (that  is,  the  writings  and  records 
concerning)  the  old  covenant,  and  the  New 
Testament  should  be  called  the  scriptures  of 
(that  is,  the  writings  and  records  concerning) 
the  new  covenant. 


8 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


Here,  it  may  be  repeated,  is  a  new  and  even 
more  deep-going  continuity-discontinuity.  Let 
us  develop  each  side  of  the  antithesis  in  turn. 

First,  the  continuity:  That  the  word  "testa- 
ment" or  "covenant"  is  used  of  both  main 
sections  of  the  Bible  indicates  the  continuity  of 
the  one  with  the  other.  It  indicates  that  the 
story  runs  on,  that  the  Bible  throughout  is 
concerned  with  essentially  the  same  community 
— the  covenant  community,  constituted  as  such 
by  the  redeeming  purpose  of  God,  conscious  of 
itself  as  set  apart  in  the  midst  of  mankind, 
though  otherwise  continuous  with  it.  This  gives 
the  Bible,  despite  the  multiplicity  and  variety 
of  its  contents,  and  above  all,  despite  the  break 
between  the  Old  and  New  Testaments,  a  singu- 
lar and  indiscerptible  unity.  The  New  Testa^ 
ment  writings  do  indeed  set  forth  the  church  as 
the  distinctively  new  Israel  of  God,  the  people 
of  the  new  covenant,  but  if  the4  main  emphasis  is 
on  the  word  "new,"  that  is  because  the  un- 
broken continuity  with  what  has  gone  before, 
which  is  implicit  in  the  words  "Israel"  and 
"covenant,"  is  not  felt  to  need  any  emphasis. 
Unostentatiously  and  without  discussion,  the 
writers  assume  themselves  heir  to  the  "common- 
wealth of  Israel"  and  "the  covenants  of  prom- 
ise" (Eph.  2:12)  .*  The  church,  the  new  Israel, 
is  not  a  substitute  for  the  old  covenant  com- 
munity, brought  in,  as  it  were,  from  elsewhere; 
rather  it  springs  from  the  loins  of  the  old  com- 
munity. It  is  its  true  heir;  it  carries,  so  to  speak, 
its  heredity;  it  is  the  evidence  not  of  its  having 
ceased  to  be,  but  of  its  unbroken  and  unbreak- 
able persistence.  It  is  all  this  because  the  divine 
purpose  and  call  which  laid  hold  of  Israel  in 
the  beginning,  and  constituted  it  the  covenant 
people  for  the  salvation  of  mankind,  still  grasps 
it,  only  now  under  the  form  of  the  church.3  In 
what  then  does  this  "newness"  consist? 

This  brings  us  to  the  second  point,  the  dis- 
continuity: the  "newness"  of  the  new  covenant 
community,  according  to  the  New  Testament, 
is  radical  and  manifests  itself  in  the  following 
main  ways: 

(a)  It  manifests  itself  in  the  way  in  which 
the  covenant  community  is  established  and 
maintained  in  its  relationship  to  God.  As  the 
New  Testament  writers  look  back  on  the  pre- 
vious history  of  the  covenant  people,  they  see  a 
dense  shadow  lying  across  it — the  shadow  of 
men's  sinful  disobedience  to  God  and  conse- 
quent alienation  from  him.  They  see,  of  course, 
other  things  as  well:  as  we  have  said,  they  as- 

1  It  is  Important  to  note  that  among  the  promises  was 
the  promise  of  a  new  covenant  with  Israel,  so  that  the 
very  newness  of  the  church  constituted  a  significant  ele- 
ment in  its  unity  and  continuity  with  what  had  gone 
before.  See  Jer.  31:31-32. 

a  See  C.  H.  Dodd,  The  Bible  Today  (Cambridge: 
University  Press,  1946),  ch.  i. 


sume  themselves  heirs  to  the  hopes  and  promises 
of  what  they  recognize  to  be  a  unique  and 
glorious  past,  a  past  which  has  prepared  the 
way  for  the  coming  of  the  Savior.  But  the  un- 
solved problem  of  sin  stands  out  in  somber 
relief,  for  it  is  because  of  sin  that  the  covenant 
people  has  failed  to  be  the  effective  servant  of 
the  divine  purpose  in  the  world.  In  the  new 
covenant  relationship  this  problem  is  solved, 
the  shadow  removed,  not  indeed  by  the  mem- 
bers of  the  new  community  being  made  sinless, 
but  by  their  being  put  as  sinners  into  an  en- 
tirely new  relationship  to  God  in  respect  of 
their  sin.  This  is  brought  about  by  God's  new 
action  in  Christ,  God  reconciles  sinful  men  to 
himself,  makes  them  "at  one"  with  himself 
through  Christ,  and  supremely  through  his 
death  at  Calvary;  and  the  new  covenant  com- 
munity consists  of  men  and  women  who  are 
thus  reconciled  to  him.  But  this  is  not  all.  The 
New  Testament  faith,  as  has  already  been  said, 
is  that  Christ  is  the  risen,  living,  and  ever- 
present  Lord  of  the  new  covenant  community; 
as  such  he  is,  through  the  Holy  Spirit,  ever 
operative  in  the  hearts  and  lives  of  its  members. 
The  new  community  lives  and  moves  and  has  its 
being  in  Christ,  its  divine  Savior  and  Lord,  in 
a  way  that  the  old  covenant  community  never 
lived  and  moved  and  had  its  being  in  the 
prophets  through  whom  the  divine  word  came 
to  it.  The  word  of  God,  formerly  uttered  by  a 
person,  has  now  become  the  living,  saving  per- 
son himself.  (See  p.  29  on  the  use  of  the  phrase 
"the  word  of  God"  and  on  its  application  to 
Christ.)  This  is  indeed  a  new  sort  of  covenant, 
constituting  a  new  covenant  people.  There  is 
still  a  further  point:  while  the  new  relation- 
ship to  God  is  a  community  relationship,  it  is 
also  a  relationship  of  an  intensely  individual 
and  personal  kind  between  each  member  and 
God  through  the  Savior.  Repentance,  forgive- 
ness, faith,  growth  in  Christian  character,  all 
these  spring  out  of  the  living  encounter  with 
God  in  Christ  within  the  innermost  places  of 
each  man's  heart;  nevertheless — it  must  be  re- 
iterated at  once — even  as  individual  transac- 
tions with  God  they  become  possible  only  be- 
cause the  word  of  the  gospel  meets  the  believer 
through  the  new  covenant  community  and  calls 
him  to  and  establishes  him  in  its  fellowship. 
The  New  Testament  is  at  one  and  the  same 
time  the  most  individualistic  and  the  most  com- 
munity-conscious book  in  the  world,  which  is 
some  evidence  perhaps  of  the  richness  and 
adequacy  of  the  truth  it  contains,  (Most  of  this 
theme  is  contained  in  two  key  passages  of  scrip- 
ture: Jer.  31:31-34,  where  the  new  covenant 
relationship  is  promised  and  its  nature  defined; 
I  Cor.  11:25— see  also  Matt.  26:28;  Mark  14:24; 
Luke  22:20 — where  the  establishment  of  the 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


new  covenant  is  associated  through  the  Last 
Supper  with  the  death  of  Christ  and  the  for- 
giveness of  sins.) 

(b)  The  newness  manifests  itself  in  the  scope 
of  the  covenant  community.  It  is  no  longer 
a  community  whose  membership  is  defined  in 
any  sense  whatever  in  terms  of  race  or  nation; 
it  is  now  defined  in  terms  only  of  a  man's — that 
is,    any  man's — relationship   to    God   through 
Christ.  It  is,  therefore,  in  principle  a  universal 
society   in   which   every   social    and   national 
boundary  or  cleavage  is  broken  through.  It  is 
perhaps  difficult  for  those  reared  in  the  Chris- 
tian tradition  to  realize  how  radically  new  this 
universalism  was.  There  are,  to  be  sure,  a  num- 
ber of  striking  utterances  in  the  Old  Testament 
concerning  the  universal  mission  of  Israel:  she 
is  called  to  be  the  agent  of  the  divine  purpose 
in  history  toward  all  mankind,  and  through  her 
the  nations  of  the  earth  will  be  brought  to  the 
true  knowledge  and  worship  of  the  Most  High.8 
But  the  Old  Testament  never  succeeded  in  uni- 
versalizing the  notion  of  the  covenant  commu- 
nity itself.  That  remained  essentially  bound  up 
with  Jewish  national  feeling,  with  the  inevita- 
ble  result— since    national   feeling,    especially 
under  the  stress  of  national  misfortune,  is  one 
of  the  most  powerful  to  which  men  are  subject 
— that  the  universalistic  elements  in  the  pro- 
phetic teaching  were  almost  completely  over- 
ridden.* That  the  church  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment broke  away  from  this  narrow  nationalism, 
while  at  the  same  time  defining  itself  in  cove- 
nant terms  and  exulting  in  its  continuity  with 
the  people  of  the  old  covenant,  is  a  most  re- 
markable thing,  and  is  explicable  only  as  the 
result  of  the  impact  of  the  transcendent  per- 
sonality of  Jesus  Christ. 

(c)  The  newness  manifests  itself  in  the  final- 
ity of  the  covenant  community.  Throughout  the 
New  Testament  the  conviction  rules  that  the 
church  is  something  final,  conclusive,  in  the 
working  out  of  God's  purpose  in  the  world 
through  the  covenant  community.  The  old  cove- 
nant was  succeeded  by  the  new  covenant  in 
Christ,  but  the  latter  cannot  be  succeeded  by 
one  still  newer,  and  so  itself  in  course  of  time 
become  old — it  is  "once  for  all."  A  full  explica- 
tion of  the  finality  of  Christianity,  such  as  would 
exclude  the  many  possible  misinterpretations  of 

8  The  relevant  passages  may  be  found  conveniently 
brought  together  in  H.  H.  Rowley,  The  Missionary 
Message  of  the  Old  Testament  (London:  The  Carey 
Press,  1945). 

*See  G.  R.  North,  The  Old  Testament  Interpretation 
of  History  (London:  The  Epworth  Press,  1946),  p.  178: 
"The  Jews  were  unable  to  shake  themselves  entirely  free 
from  the  principle  of  nationalism  in  religion.  Even  Jere- 
miah, for  all  his  New  Covenant  oracle,  did  not  succeed 
in  doing  that.  He  conceived  of  the  future  kingdom  of 
God  as  somehow  bound  up  with  the  restoration  of  His 
own  people.'* 


it,  is  beyond  the  scope  of  this  article;   it   is 
sufficient  to  point  out  three  things: 

First,  finality  is  necessarily  involved  in  the 
New  Testament  view  of  the  person  and  work  of 
Christ.  The  categories  applied  to  him  cannot  be 
used  of  one  concerning  whom  the  possibility 
can  be  even  theoretically  entertained  that  he 
might  be  superseded. 

Second,  the  finality  is  not  a  completed  final- 
ity. This  has  the  sound  of  self-contradiction,  but 
it  does  no  more  than  express  the  conviction 
which  runs  throughout  the  New  Testament, 
that  God's  action  in  history  through  Christ  is 
not  yet  a  completed  action.  It  has  assuredly 
begun  in  what  is  a  radically  new  initiative,  but 
the  consummation  of  it  in  the  fully  realized 
kingdom  of  God  is  yet  to  be,  "according  to  his 
purpose  which  he  set  forth  in  Christ  as  a  plan 
for  the  fullness  of  time,  to  unite  all  things  in 
him,  things  in  heaven  and  things  on  earth" 
(Eph.  1:9-10). 

Third,  the  finality  lies  in  the  fact  that  the 
new  covenant  fulfills  the  old  covenant.  It  is 
important  in  this  context  to  give  the  notion  of 
fulfillment  its  proper  meaning.  It  might  be 
taken  to  mean  simply  that  under  the  old  cove- 
nant the  Jews  developed  certain  religious  long- 
ings and  aspirations  which  were  never  fully 
satisfied,  but  which  under  the  new  covenant 
were  fully  satisfied.  Or  it  might  be  taken  to 
mean  that  in  course  of  time  certain  religious 
and  theological  problems  or  tensions  emerged 
in  the  old  covenant  period  which  were  not  then 
resolved,  but  which  were  later  resolved  by  the 
coming  of  Christ.  Both  these  thoughts  are  valid 
and  important  aspects  of  the  full  notion  of 
fulfillment  as  applied  to  the  work  of  Christ  (see 
p.  27) .  But  they  do  not  express  the  distinctive 
New  Testament  idea  of  Christ  as  fulfillment 
which  is  here  in  mind.  It  might  be  said  that 
taken  by  themselves  they  are  too  anthropocen- 
tric.  The  primary  emphasis  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment is  much  more  theocentric:  that  is  to  say, 
the  emphasis  is  not  so  much  on  Christ  as  meet- 
ing the  unsatisfied  aspirations,  or  resolving  the 
outstanding  problems,  of  religious  men,  as  on 
Christ  fulfilling  God's  purpose.  He  is  God's  ful- 
fillment before  he  is  man's.  God  had  planned 
and  intended  from  the  beginning  to  come  in 
Christ;  his  dealings  with  the  old  covenant  peo- 
ple from  the  call  of  Abraham  onward  were  in 
pursuit  of  that  plan  and  intention;  the  plan  and 
intention  were  fulfilled  when  "in  the  fullness  of 
time"  he  did  in  fact  come  in  Christ.  In  all  his 
dealings  with  the  covenant  people  God,  so  to 
say,  had  Christ  in  mind.  Christ  came  and  died 
and  rose  again  "according  to  the  definite  plan 
and  foreknowledge  of  God"  (Acts  2:23) .  "He 
was  destined  before  the  foundation  of  the  world 
but  was  made  manifest  at  the  end  of  the  times" 


10 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


(I  Pet.  1:20) .  In  other  words,  there  comes  to  ex- 
pression in  the  New  Testament  idea  of  Christ 
as  fulfillment  the  characteristic  biblical  thought 
of  God  as  purposively  active  in  history,  and 
above  all  in  the  history  of  the  covenant  people. 
It  is  this  that  lies  behind  the  frequent  applica- 
tion by  the  New  Testament  writers  to  Christ's 
advent  and  life  and  death  of  such  phrases  as 
"according  to  the  scriptures"  or  "spoken  of  by 
the  prophets"  or  "according  to  the  promises " 
There  is  no  hint  in  such  phrases,  it  is  super- 
fluous to  say,  of  a  fatalistic  or  mechanical  neces- 
sity. Nor  is  there  any  suggestion  that  the  Old 
Testament  writings  thus  referred  to  resulted 
from  some  occult  gift  of  clairvoyance  in  those 
who  wrote  them.  The  controlling  thought  in 
such  phrases  is,  once  again,  the  thought  of  God 
actively  at  work  in  history,  and  more  particu- 
larly of  his  making  his  mind  and  purpose 
known,  in  some  way  and  in  some  degree,  to 
prophetic  souls.  This  making  known  is  indeed 
part  of  the  working  out  of  his  purpose,  for  the 
work  and  witness  of  the  prophets  are  part  and 
parcel  of  the  historic  process  itself.  The  inter- 
pretation of  events  that  they  proclaim  in  the 
name  of  God  is  itself  a  creative  event.  The 
phrase  "in  some  way  and  in  some  degree"  has 
been  used  because  the  New  Testament  writers 
offer  no  information  as  to  how  or  to  what  extent 
the  divine  purpose  was  made  known;  this  is 
because  their  emphasis  is  primarily  on  the  fact 
of  the  divine  activity  in  the  history  of  the  cove- 
nant people  and  in  the  witness  of  the  prophets, 
preparing  the  way  for  Christ,  and  only  sec- 
ondarily on  the  human  agents  whom  he  chose  to 
speak  to  and  to  use  "at  sundry  times  and  in 
divers  manners"  (Heb.  1:1). 

C.  Continuity -Discontinuity  in  the  Person  of 
Christ. — What,  then,  is  the  source  and  ground 
of  this  radical  newness  in  the  covenant  relation- 
ship which  constitutes  the  church  the  new  Israel 
of  God?  The  answer  which  the  New  Testament 
gives  to  this  question  is  implicit  in  what  has 
just  been  said:  the  newness  derives  from  the 
radical,  the  incommensurable,  newness  of  Jesus 
Christ.  The  New  Testament  unequivocally 
teaches  that — to  repeat  the  words  used  at  the 
beginning  of  this  article — God  himself  came, 
and  comes,  in  Jesus  Christ  in  a  saving  self- 
giving  and  self-disclosure  which  are  unique, 
final,  adequate,  and  indispensable.  The  point, 
however,  which  should  be  emphasized  here  is 
that  there  is  in  the  New  Testament  the  clearest 
testimony  to  both  the  continuity  and  the  dis- 
continuity, both  the  "in  and  through"  aspect 
and  the  "into"  aspect,  of  the  person  of  Christ. 
It  is  here  that  the  continuity-discontinuity 
theme  of  the  Bible  reaches  its  profoundest 
depth,  and  at  the  same  time  its  central  point 


— that  which  holds  together  and  gives  a  unitary 
meaning  to  the  whole  biblical  history. 

On  the  one  hand,  Jesus  Christ  is  emphatically 
and  unreservedly  set  forth  as  a  fully  human  and 
historic  individual.  He  is  a  Jew,  his  whole  being 
and  life  rooted  in,  fashioned,  and  conditioned 
by  the  history  and  tradition,  the  distinctive  reli- 
gious, moral,  cultural  character  of  the  Jewish 
people,  including  in  this,  above  all,  its  con- 
sciousness of  being  called  of  God  to  a  special 
place  in  his  purpose.  And  even  as  the  life  of  the 
Jewish  community  was  conditioned  by  the  wider 
secular  events  and  circumstances  of  the  time, 
particularly  those  connected  with  the  imperial 
activities  of  Rome,  so  also  was  his  life.  Much  of 
his  teaching  can  only  be  fully  comprehended 
when  it  is  taken  in  the  context  of  the  Roman 
occupying  power  and  of  the  relation  of  the 
Jews  to  it;  his  death  is  brought  about  by  the 
co-operation  of  the  Jewish  and  Roman  authori- 
ties. There  is  a  wealth  of  meaning  in  the  fact 
that  Luke  dates  the  beginning  of  the  active 
ministry  of  Jesus  with  the  words  "in  the  fif- 
teenth year  of  the  reign  of  Tiberius  Caesar, 
Pontius  Pilate  being  governor  of  Judea,  and 
Herod  being  tetrarch  of  Galilee,  and  his  brother 
Philip  tetrarch  of  Iturea  and  of  the  region  of 
Trachonitis,  and  Lysanias  the  tetrarch  of 
Abilene,  Annas  and  Caiaphas  being  the  high 
priests"  (Luke  3:1-2). 

On  the  other  hand,  with  equal  emphasis  Jesus 
Christ  is  set  forth  as  being  not  merely  historic 
and  human:  his  person  and  work  cannot  be 
comprehended  in  their  essential  nature  simply 
in  terms  of  the  history  of  the  old  covenant  peo- 
ple and  of  the  interplay  of  this  with  the  wider 
history  of  mankind.  He  is  not  even  set  forth  as 
the  last  and  greatest  of  the  great  prophets  with 
whom  had  been  so  closely  bound  up,  in  the 
past,  God's  dealings  with  Israel.  On  the  con- 
trary, he  is  presented  throughout  as  one  who,  by 
virtue  of  his  unique  and  mysterious  office  as  the 
Messiah,  is  the  redeeming  God  himself  in  action 
to  set  up  his  kingdom,  in  a  way  for  which  there 
is,  and  in  the  nature  of  the  case  can  be,  no 
parallel.  In  accordance  with  this  he  is  made  the 
object  of  religious  devotion,  of  utter  faith  and 
obedience,  such  as  the  writers  would  normally 
direct  only  to  God  himself. 

It  is  hardly  necessary  to  say  that  the  New 
Testament  makes  no  attempt  to  work  out  this 
paradoxical  faith  concerning  the  Jewish  and 
human  "continuity"  and  the  divine  "disconti- 
nuity" of  Christ  into  a  theoretical  doctrine  of 
his  person;  the  deep,  underlying  theological 
problems  are  not  raised,  for  example,  how  this 
religious  devotion  to  Christ  and  a  strict  mono- 
theism are  to  be  reconciled.  There  is  little  in 
the  New  Testament  to  suggest  the  christological 
doctrines  which  were  later  wrought  out  in  the 


11 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


discussions  of  the  Greek  fathers  and  are  en- 
shrined in  the  Nicene  and  Chalcedonian  formu- 
las. Indeed,  it  is  perhaps  a  trifle  misleading  to 
describe  the  New  Testament  belief  concerning 
Christ  as  a  doctrine  of  the  Incarnation,  unless 
the  word  "Incarnation"  is  carefully  interpreted 
to  mean  that  Christ  in  his  divine-earthly  life 
was  veritably  a  man  in  the  wholeness  of  a  man's 
being  as  an  embodied  and  historic  person — 
which  was  the  sense  in  which  the  word  was 
used  at  the  beginning  of  this  article  and  the 
sense  which  the  phrase  "became  flesh'*  bears  in 
the  first  chapter  of  the  Fourth  Gospel  (John 
1:13).  Apart  from  such  careful  use,  the  word 
"Incarnation"  is  perhaps  a  little  apt,  for  ety- 
mological reasons,  to  suggest  the  underlying 
dualism  of  Greek  thought,  with  its  readiness  to 
think  of  the  Incarnation  as  the  ingress  of  a 
divine  principle  into  a  mortal  envelope  of  flesh 
essentially  alien  to  it.  Nothing  could  be  farther 
from  the  thought  of  the  New  Testament 
than  that.  We  could  keep  much  nearer  to  the 
New  Testament  thought  if  we  had  an  abstract 
noun  in  English  corresponding  to  the  Greek 
word  £vccv0pobTrr|cnq,  or  if  we  could  coin  a  word 
and  speak  of  the  divine  "inhumanization" 
or  even  "inhistorization,"  rather  than  of  the 
Incarnation. 

The  purpose  of  the  first  main  section  of  this 
article  should  be  now  evident:  to  show  that  the 
central  Christian  affirmation  of  the  Incarnation, 
with  its  insistence  that  the  divine  action  in 
Christ  is  both  "in  and  through"  and  "into" 
history,  both  continuous  and  discontinuous  with 
history,  is  intimately  and  indissolubly  bound  up 
with  the  whole  distinctive  content  and  structure 
of  the  Bible.  Normal  or  typical  Christianity  is 
thus  seen  to  be  profoundly  and  organically  one 
with  what  it  has  always  asserted  to  be  in-  some 
sense  its  standard  and  norm.  By  the  same  argu- 
ment, the  assertion  made  at  the  beginning,  that 
the  normative  relation  of  the  Bible  to  the  faith 
and  life  of  the  church  is  of  the  intrinsic  or 
organic  kind,  is  illustrated  and  reaffirmed.  The 
faith  and  life  of  the  church  as  centered  in  God's 
unique  action  in  Christ  can  in  fact  no  more  be 
torn  apart  from  the  Bible  and  remain  their  dis- 
tinctive selves  than  a  plant  can  be  torn  from  the 
soil  and  remain  a  living  plant. 

The  close  connection  between  the  central 
and  distinctive  Christian  affirmation  concerning 
Christ  and  the  view  taken  of  the  Scriptures  can 
be  illustrated  from  the  early  history  of  the 
church.  Thus  it  is  significant  that  Marcion,  who 
had  strongly  Docetist  leanings  (i.e.,  emphasized 
the  "into"  aspect  of  the  divine  action  in  Christ 
at  the  expense  of  the  "in  and  through"  aspect, 
the  divine  at  the  expense  of  the  human),  also 
rejected  the  Old  Testament.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  adoptionists  (those  who  emphasized  the 


"in  and  through"  aspect  at  the  expense  of  the 
"into,"  the  human  at  the  expense  of  the  divine) 
find  their  first  representatives  among  the  Ebio- 
nites,  who  had  no  awareness  of  the  essential 
newness  of  the  Christian  revelation  which  ulti- 
mately found  expression  in  the  idea  *and  the 
compilation  of  a  New  Testament.  The  mission 
of  Jesus  was  held  to  be  merely  to  purify  and 
revive  the  old  revelation.  Thus  Paul  of  Samo- 
sata  was  acutely  characterized  by  some  of  the 
fathers  as  "neo-Jewish"  and  "Ebionitic." 

Before  proceeding,  it  fnay  be  worth  while,  in 
order  to  avoid  misunderstanding,  to  emphasize 
that  in  setting  forth  the  biblical  conception  of 
the  church  as  the  new  Israel,  the  new  covenant 
people,  we  have  inevitably  thought  of  the 
church  in  terms  of  its  ideal  as  this  is  defined  by 
God's  intention  and  purpose  toward  it  and 
toward  mankind  through  Christ.  That  is  to  say, 
we  have  inevitably  thought  in  terms  of  the  true 
church,  which  does  not  necessarily  coincide  ex- 
actly with  this  or  that  institution  in  history 
which  has  in  fact  called  itself  a  church  or  the 
church.  There  are  difficult  problems  here  with 
which  every  Christian  thinker  is  familiar,  but 
the  line  of  thought  which  has  been  pursued  is 
not  really  affected  by  them.  We  must  believe 
that  somewhere  within  the  empirical  and  insti- 
tutional churches  the  true  church  of  God  is 
always  in  being;  and  the  thesis  of  this  article  is 
that  its  essential  and  distinctive  nature,  purpose, 
and  message,  and  particularly  the  relation  of 
these  to  its  own  acknowledged  norm  in  the 
Bible,  can  be  rightly  comprehended  only  on  the 
basis  of  what  has  already  been  said  above,  and 
along  the  lines  of  thought  which  we  now  go  on 
to  pursue. 

111.  The  Normative  Function  of  the  Bible 
Within  the  Church 

This  central  section  of  the  inquiry  can  be 
begun  with  the  statement  made  in  connection 
with  the  phrase  "and  comes,"  namely,  that  the 
creative  and  constitutive  principle  of  the  church 
is  the  living  Christ  himself,  who  in  all  things 
rules  and  directs  its  faith  and  life  through  the 
-Holy  Spirit  (see  p,  7) . 

This  statement  clearly  involves  that  Christ 
is  the  final  and  absolute  authority  for  the  faith 
and  life  of  the  church,  and  therefore  for  the 
faith  and  life  of  every  individual  member.  To 
say  this  does  not  in  any  way  depart  from  the 
truth  that  God  is  the  sole  absolute  authority 
for  men,  but  rather  expresses  it  in  its  specifically 
Christian  form;  for,  as  we  have  seen,  it  is  pre- 
cisely the 'distinctive  Christian  affirmation  that 
Christ  is  the  personal  self-manifestation  of  God 
to  men.  But  we  have  also  accepted  as  the  datura 
of  this  inquiry  that  the  Bible  is  in  some  sfcnse 
the  supreme  standard  and  norm.  Obviously  our 


12 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


task  is  to  relate  these  two  statements,  which,  in 
their  apparent  assertion  of  two  finalities,  seem 
at  first  sight  to  be  contrary.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
as  will  be  seen,  it  is  only  by  relating  them  to 
one  another  that  we  can  rightly  understand  in 
what  sense  the  Bible  is  the  supreme  standard 
and  norm,  and  on  what  its  authority  rests.  But 
before  going  on  to  this,  it  is  necessary  to  insist 
on  the  importance  of  being  once  and  for  all 
clear  that  whatever  place  may  be  assigned  to  the 
Bible  as  standard  and  norm,  the  truth  that 
Christ,  the  living  Christ  speaking  through  the 
Holy  Spirit,  is  the  supreme  authority  must  not 
be  qualified  in  any  way  whatsoever.  Only  by 
holding  firmly  to  this  truth  can  the  essential 
and  unique  quality  of  the  Christian  faith  and 
life  be  preserved.  It  is  a  faith  and  life  centered 
in  the  person  of  Christ,  apprehended  as  God 
himself  personally  and  livingly  encountering  us 
and  dealing  with  us.  It  is  not  centered  in  a 
book,  as  in  Islam;  or  in  a  code  of  behavior,  as  in 
Confucianism;  or  in  a  system  of  philosophical 
or  theological  truth,  as  in  Vedantic  Hinduism; 
or  in  a  rigidly  authoritarian  institution  such  as 
the  Christian  church  in  its  Roman  form  has  in 
large  measure  become.  It  is,  of  course,  unhap- 
pily true  that  Christianity  has  often  been  set 
forth  in  a  way  that  moves  far  too  much  in  the 
direction  of  one  or  other  of  these  possibilities. 
Thus  it  has  been  presented  in  a  way  to  give 
the  impression  that  it  is  essentially  a  religion  of 
a  book  (as  when  unquestioning  acceptance  of 
the  inerrancy  of  the  Bible  has  been  made  de 
fide)  ;5  or  that  it  is  merely  a  matter  of  living 
according  to  the  ethical  teaching  of  the  New 
Testament,  particularly  of  the  Sermon  on  the 
Mount,  other  distinctive  New  Testament  be- 
liefs being  relatively  unimportant  (as  in  some 
of  the  shallower  forms  of  what  is  called  liberal 
modernism) ;  or  that  it  is  a  matter  of  accepting 
an  elaborate  scheme  of  doctrines  (as  in  certain 
forms  of  "scholastic"  Protestantism) ,*  or,  in  the 
way  already  indicated,  of  submitting  to  an 
authoritarian  institution  (as  in  Roman  Cathol- 
icism) .  One  may  venture  to  think,  however, 
that  the  distinctive  Christian  relationship  of 
personal  trust  in  and  obedience  to  the  living 
Christ  has  usually  lain  within  these  faulty 
presentations  and  aberrations,  and  given  them, 
in  spite  of  themselves,  a  characteristically  Chris- 
tian vitality  and  power. 

Let  us  turn  now  to  the  problem  of  the  rela- 
tion of  the  authority  of  the  Bible  to  the  author- 
ity of  Christ.  The  position  to  be  put  forth  is  that 
we  can  only  understand  and  justify  the  su- 
premely normative  status  of  the  Bible  within 
the  church's  life,  while  at  the  same  time  not 
qualifying  in  any  way  Christ's  supreme  author- 

6  Cf.  William  Chillingworth's  famous  dictum,  "The 
Bible  alone  is  the  religion  of  Protestants." 


ity,  by  doing  two  things.  First,  we  must  show 
that  the  biblical  writings  are  indispensable  to 
the  present,  living  relationship  of  Christ  to  the 
church — the  new  covenant  community — and  its 
members:  in  other  words,  we  must  show  that 
the  normative  relation  of  the  Bible  to  the 
church  is  an  essential  part  of  the  normative 
relation  of  the  living  Christ  to  it.  The  special 
problem  here  is  to  see  how  printed  documents 
from  the  past  can  enter  into  a  present,  living, 
personal  relationship,  particularly  in  view  of 
the  fact  that  Christ  himself  left  no  written  rec- 
ords. Second,  we  must  show  why  nothing  else 
but  the  Bible  thus  indispensably  participates 
in  the  authority  of  the  living  Christ.  The  special 
problem  here  is  to  see  why  later  writings,  some 
of  them  on  the  highest  level  of  inspiration, 
which  have  been  produced  as  part  of  the  on- 
going life  of  the  church  throughout  the  ages, 
should  not  enter  as  indispensably  into  the  liv- 
ing authority  of  Christ  as  those  which  are  in 
the  New  Testament.  The  Roman  Church  main- 
tains that  they  do,  at  least  in  so  far  as  they  help 
to  form  that  ecclesiastical  tradition  which  it  ex- 
pressly puts  on  a  level  with  scripture  as  con- 
stituting, with  the  latter,  the  normative  factors 
governing  the  authoritative  and  final  pro- 
nouncements of  the  Papacy.6  If  we  reject  this 
view,  as  the  Protestant  church  has  always  rightly 
done,  we  must  be  clear  why  we  do  so,  why  we 
give  only  the  biblical  writings  so  unique  a  place. 
The  two  points  will  be  discussed  in  turn. 

A.  The  Bible  as  Essential  to  the  Normative 
Relationship  of  the  Living  Christ  to  the  Church. 
— We  can  understand  the  way  in  which  the 
Bible,  as  a  collection  of  documents  and  records 
from  the  past,  enters  indispensably  into  the 
present  lordship  of  the  living  Christ  only  in 
the  light  of  our  general  understanding  of  why 
a  historic  incarnation  was  necessary  at  all  to 
God's  saving  work  for  men.  In  other  words, 
the  question  is  fundamentally  a  theological  one, 
involving  our  whole  doctrine  of  salvation,  which 
in  turn  involves  the  doctrine  of  God,  of  man,  of 
sin — in  short,  of  the  whole  organism  of  Chris- 
tian truth.  The  close  connection  between  our 
view  of  the  Bible  and  our  view  of  salvation  can 
be  seen  by  reflecting  that  to  assert  the  necessity 
for  a  historic  incarnation  is  not  the  same  thing 
as  to  assert  the  necessity  for  trustworthy  records 

6  See  the  decree  concerning  the  canonical  Scriptures  in 
"The  Canons  and  Decrees  of  the  Council  of  Trent"  in 
Philip  Schaff,  Creeds  of  Christendom  (New  York:  Harper 
&  Bros.,  1877),  II,  79.  In  practice,  as  has  often  been 
remarked,  the  Roman  Church  sets  tradition  above  scrip- 
ture as  the  authoritative  source  of  truth,  for  scripture 
is  acknowledged  to  require  interpretation  and  exposition, 
whereas  the  teaching  of  the  church  concerning  their 
interpretation  and  exposition  is  infallible  and  irreform- 
able  (that  is,  never  to  be  examined  in  the  light  of 
Scripture  itself),  See  "Dogmatic  Decrees  of  the  Vatican 
Council,"  1870,  ibid.,  II,  271. 


13 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


concerning  it.  One  might  hold  a  doctrine  of 
salvation  which  established  or  presupposed  the 
necessity  for  a  historic  incarnation,  but  which 
made  superfluous  a  trustworthy  record  of  the 
events  associated  with  it:  all  that  would  be  re- 
quired on  such  a  view  would  be  credible  witness 
of  the  bare  fact  that  such  incarnation  had  taken 
place.  There  have  been  doctrines  of  Christ's 
saving  work  of  this  type.  Thus  the  view  which 
finds  expression  in  the  writings  of  some  of  the 
Greek  fathers,  that  the  essence  of  Christ's  saving 
work  was  that  he  introduced  the  divine,  incor- 
ruptible life  into   the  corrupt  and  perishing 
body  of  humanity,  and  that  our  benefiting  from 
that  work  takes  place  through  participation  in 
the  sacraments,  while  obviously  asserting  the 
necessity  of  the  Incarnation,  leaves  no  indispen- 
sable place  for  a  collection  of  records  like  the 
Bible.  Similarly,  certain  types  of  substitutionary 
views  of  Christ's  saving  work  (particularly  when 
the  view  is  elaborated  into  a  scheme  of  soteri- 
ological  doctrine  which  every  man  must  believe 
in  order  to  be  saved)    do  not  seem  indispen- 
sably to  involve  the  sort  of  records  we  have  in 
the  Bible.  The  clearest  example  is  once  again 
afforded  by  the  Roman  Church,  which  makes 
the  saving  process  rest  essentially  on  a  man's 
committing  himself  to  the  whole  hierarchical 
and  dogmatic  system  of  the  church  in  an  act 
of  fides  implicit^  or,  as  Luther  dubbed  it,  "blind 
faith."   In  accordance  with  this,   the  Roman 
Church  has  not  only  never  given  the  biblical 
records  an  indispensable  place  in  its  under- 
standing of  the  work  of  Christ,  but  has  also  on 
the  whole  discouraged  its  lay  members  from 
acquiring  knowledge  of  them. 

If,  however,  we  so  understand  God's  saving 
work  through  Christ  that  it  requires  as  an  indis- 
pensable element  in  it  the  encounter,  continu- 
ally re-enacted,  with  the  concrete  individuality 
of  the  historic  Savior,  then  we  can  see  at  once 
why  the  biblical  documents  become  an  indis- 
pensable factor  in  Christ's  living  relationship  to 
the  church.  For  without  the  Bible  such  en- 
counter could  not  take  place.  It  is  obviously  not 
possible  fully  to  elaborate  in  this  article  such 
an  account  of  the  saving  work  of  Christ;  all  that 
is  possible,  and  indeed  all  that  is  necessary  for 
our  purpose,  is  to  summarize  what  has  been  set 
forth  elsewhere.7 

The  main  point  is  what  may  be  called  the 
"radical  personalism"  of  the  Christian  message, 
a  personalism  which  is  itself  in  profoundest 
harmony  with  the  biblical  revelation.  According 
to  this  radical  personalism,  the  essential  nature 
of  man  consists  in  the  fact  that  God  has  made 
him  a  finite  person  in  order  that  he  may  enjoy 
personal  fellowship  with  God  and  with  other 

T  Herbert  H.  Farmer,  God  and  Men  (New  York  and 
Nashville:  Abingdon-Cokesbury  Press,  1947),  chs.  iii-iv. 


finite  persons.  It  is  this  purpose  of  God  which 
has  brought  the  process  of  what  we  call  "his- 
tory" into  being,  for  history  is  but  another  name 
for  the  sphere  in  which  finite  persons  can  live 
freely  as  persons,  the  sphere,  that  is  to  say,  in 
which  their  decisions  and  deeds  can  have  real 
significance  either  as  co-operative  with  or  as 
opposed  to  God's  purpose  for  them  and  through 
them.  Sin,  on  account  of  which  God's  saving 
action  in  Christ  is  made  necessary,  has  to  do  with 
this  profound  relationship  to  God  which  lies  at 
the  root  of  man's  whole  distinctive  nature  as  a 
personal  being.  By  the  word  "sin"  we  indicate 
the  fact  that  men  have  rejected  and  do  reject 
God's  claim  upon  them  for  their  obedience  and 
trust,  and  the  claim  of  their  fellows  upon  them 
for  their  love,  this  latter  claim  being  itself  part 
of  God's  claim.  Men  are  able  to  make  this  rejec- 
tion because  in  such  a  personal  world  there  is 
real  freedom;  without  such  freedom  to  reject 
claims  it  would  not  be  a  personal  world.  Be- 
cause sin  has  thus  to  do  with  the  ultimate  core 
and  basis  of  man's  distinctively  personal  life, 
its  effects  upon  the  personality  are  disastrous 
and  inevitable.  The  worst  and  most  disabling 
effect  is  blindness.  Men  become  increasingly 
unable  to  see  the  truth  concerning  themselves, 
to  discern  the  true  meaning  and  direction  of 
their  life,  and  of  history  generally;  they  become 
increasingly  unable  to  know  what  God's  will  for 
them  and  claim  upon  them  are,  and  indeed  to 
know  that  there  is  a  personal  God  at  all,  still 
less  one  who  may  be  joyfully  obeyed  and 
trusted.  This  is  the  worst  and  most  disabling 
effect  of  sin  because  it  is  precisely  the  preroga- 
tive of  a  personal  being  to  walk  in  freedom 
according  to  the  light  of  truth  within  his  own 
soul.  It  follows  from  this  that  only  as  the  blind- 
ness is  being  continuously  healed,  only  as  a  man 
is  brought  again  and  again  to  the  light  and  kept 
in  the  light,  can  the  evil  of  his  sin-corrupted 
existence  even  begin  to  be  set  right.  And  by  the 
same  argument  a  man  cannot  cure  his  own 
blindness,  for  to  cure  it  he  would  first  require 
the  capacity  to  see  the  truth  about  God  and 
about  himself  which  his  blindness  now  denies 
him.  If  God  does  not  act  in  a  way  that  is 
effectively  revealing,  effectively  healing  of  his 
blindness,  there  is  no  hope. 

All  this  indicates  the  conditions  which  the 
divine  saving  action  in  relation  to  sin,  if  it  was 
to  be  effective,  had  to  fulfill.  It  had  to  be  action 
which  lays  bare  to  men  the  real  nature  of  the 
personal — that  is,  the  historical — world,  in  such 
a  way  that  their  blindness  is  overcome.  Yet  this 
must  not  be  in  a  way  that  coerces  and  overrides 
their  minds,  for  if  it  did  that  it  would  be  false 
to  the  real  nature  of  the  personal  world,  and 
so  far  from  unveiling  it,  would  obscure  it.  It 
must  be  effective,  yet  not  overriding — not  over- 


14 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


tiding,  precisely  in  order  to  be  a  truly  effective 
tvay  of  dealing  with  men  as  persons. 

It  is  difficult,  to  say  the  least,  to  see  how  a 
saving  disclosure  of  the  truth  of  the  kind  just 
indicated  could  take  any  form  other  than  that 
which  Christianity  affirms  it  did  in  fact  take  in 
Christ,  the  form,  that  is,  of  a  full  and  concrete 
embodiment  in  a  human  personal  life,  lived  in 
the  midst  of,  and  confronting  men  in  the  midst 
of,  those  very  events  and  relationships  which 
constitute  their  historical  existence  as  persons. 
Only  thus  could  it  deal  with  the  corruption  and 
darkness  which  sin  causes,  and  only  thus  could 
it  remain  true  to  the  personal  world  by  con- 
tinuously evoking  in  men  a  new  inward  percep- 
tion and  response.  In  particular,  it  was  most 
necessary  that  it  should  thus  confront  us  in  the 
midst  of  and  in  closest  relationship  with  human 
existence  as  corrupted  and  darkened  and  em- 
bittered by  sin,  for  it  is  in  the  midst  of  human 
existence  as  thus  corrupted  and  darkened  and 
embittered  that  the  saved  man  has  to  live  the 
new  life  into  which  he  is  called,  and  for  which 
he  is  empowered  by  God.  Certainly  the  mere 
announcement  of  general  truths  or  doctrines 
concerning  the  nature  of  God  and  his  purpose 
for  men,  or  concerning  sin,  could  not  effect 
these  things,  even  if  uttered  with  power  and 
eloquence  by  some  prophetic  personality. 

To  suppose  that  it  could — to  suppose  that 
it  could  be  anything  more  than  a  merely 
ameliorative  factor — would  be  to  show  a  very 
inadequate  grasp  both  of  the  nature  of  per- 
sonality and  of  the  effects  of  sin  upon  it. 
General  truths  cannot  get  right  inside  men, 
so  to  speak,  and  continue  to  get  right  inside 
them,  in  their  sinful  state  and  situation — chal- 
lenging the  will,  stirring  the  deep  springs  of 
feeling,  breaking  up  the  obstinate  resistances  of 
pride  and  self-justification;  general  truths  can- 
not pierce  the  hard  crusts  of  egotism,  with  its 
fears  and  hates  and  insincerities,  and  when  the 
crust  re-forms,  pierce  it  again,  letting  in  the 
light  and  again  letting  in  the  light,  bringing 
men  again  and  again  to  a  true  and  deep  peni- 
tence, making  credible  a  divine  pardon  which 
will  neither  indulge  nor  yet  be  turned  aside  by 
their  sinfulness.  Only  truth  in  unclouded  per- 
sonal embodiment  and  action,  encountering 
and  challenging  men  in  the  actual  historical 
situations  which  are  the  real  stuff  of  their  per- 
sonal existence,  can  work  real  redemption. 

It  is  hardly  necessary  to  point  out  that  what 
has  just  been  said  is  not  offered  as  a  full  state- 
ment of  the  doctrine  of  our  redemption  by 
Christ.  It  is  meant  only  to  set  forth  a  basic 
general  principle  which  must  underlie  all  our 
understanding  of  Christ's  saving  and  sanctifying 
work,  and  which  is  especially  relevant  to  the 
problem  under  discussion.  The  point  is  that 


15 


if  this  general  principle  is  valid,  it  makes  clear 
why  an  encounter,  continually  renewed,  with 
the  concrete  individuality  of  the  historic  Christ 
is  an  indispensable  factor  in  his  present  rela- 
tionship to  the  church  and  to  its  individual 
members.  Furthermore,  it  makes  clear  why  a 
historical  record  is  indispensable  also,  for  with- 
out a  historical  record  such  an  encounter  could 
not  take  place. 

We  may  reach  the  same  truth  from  a  different 
angle.  We  have  spoken  of  the  risen  and  living 
Christ  directing  the  faith  and  life  of  the  church 
and  of  its  members  through  the  Holy  Spirit. 
The  significance  of  this  statement,  however, 
both  theologically  and  for  the  Christian  life, 
depends  on  the  content  we  give  to  the  term 
Christ:  it  depends  on  whether  we  can  give  it  a 
content  which  differentiates  it  significantly  from 
the  meaning  which  we  attach  to  the  term  Holy 
Spirit.  If  we  mean  by  the  living  Christ  merely 
the  Spirit  of  God  conceived  as  working  for  the 
realization  of  certain  values  vaguely  called 
Christian,  or  even  more  vaguely  called  spiritual, 
then  the  proposition  that  Christ  rules  through 
the  Holy  Spirit  becomes  the  meaningless  tautol- 
ogy that  the  Spirit  rules  through  the  Spirit. 
Futhermore,  it  becomes  all  too  easy,  as  experi- 
ence shows,  for  the  religious  life  to  run  out  into 
a  sentimental  nebulosity,  lacking  all  positive 
direction  and  drive,  or  else,  if  it  achieves  posi- 
tive direction,  to  do  so  by  becoming  an  un- 
checked individualism  for  whose  merely  private 
"hunches"  the  authority  of  the  Spirit's  leading 
is  claimed.  But  if  we  mean  by  Christ  as  risen 
and  living  the  same  Christ  as  he  who  meets  us 
in  the  pages  of  the  Gospels,  with  all  the  sharp 
personal  characterization  and  definition  of  con- 
crete historic  existence,  then  to  say  that  Christ 
rules  through  the  Holy  Spirit  is  to  say  some- 
thing highly  significant.  For  on  the  one  hand, 
the  Spirit  takes  on  the  character  of  Christ,  and 
so  ceases  to  be  merely  a  vague  divine  principle 
dimly  conceived  as  indwelling  human  nature 
and  lending  sanction  to  any  strong  impulsion 
from  the  subconscious  regions  of  the  personal- 
ity; and  on  the  other  hand,  the  rule  of  Christ 
becomes  a  truly  personal  rule  operating  through 
the  quickened  insight  of  the  believer  in  relation 
to  his  personal  situation,  and  not  through  a 
merely  slavish  imitation  of  or  legalistic  obedi- 
ence to  the  deeds  and  words  of  Christ  as  re- 
corded in  the  Gospels.  The  Spirit  takes  of  the 
things  of  Christ  and  shows  them  to  us,  and  the 
fruits  of  the  Spirit  are  the  virtues  of  Christ.  But 
this  means  that  there  has  to  be  a  Christ — a  his- 
toric Christ — for  the  Spirit  to  show  us;  and  that 
in  turn  means  that  there  has  to  be  a  historical 
record. 

The  argument  so  far  might  seem  only  to 
demonstrate  the  indispensability  of  the  Gospels 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


to  Christ's  saving  and  ruling  presence  in  the 
church.  But  in  view  of  all  that  has  been  main- 
tained throughout  this  article  concerning  the 
divine  action  in  Christ,  it  is  clear  that  the 
gospel  records  of  the  life  of  the  Redeemer  could 
not  possibly  suffice  by  themselves  to  present  us 
with  the  whole  content  and  full  import  of  that 
action.  To  suppose  that  they  could  would  be  to 
fail  to  give  proper  weight  to  that  "in  and 
through"  or  "continuity"  aspect  of  the  divine 
action  which  is  essential  to  a  truly  historic 
incarnation  and  revelation.  It  would  also  be  to 
display  ignorance  of  the  gospel  records  them- 
selves, for  it  does  not  require  much  study  of 
the  Gospels  to  see  that  they  cannot  be  under- 
stood apart  from  what  went  before  in  the  his- 
tory of  the  old  covenant  people,  as  set  before 
us  in  the  Old  Testament,  and  apart  from  what 
came  after  in  the  coming  into  existence  of  the 
new  covenant  community,  as  set  before  us  in 
the  documents  of  the  New  Testament  other 
than  the  Gospels.  Once  we  grant  the  necessity 
of  the  gospel  records  to  God's  dealings  with  us 
through  Christ,  we  grant  in  principle  the  neces- 
sity of  more  than  just  those  records;  we  grant 
the  necessity  of  a  whole  Bible.  At  the  moment 
I  say  no  more  than  "a"  whole  Bible,  for  the 
question  of  the  limits  of  the  canon  of  scripture 
is  yet  to  be  discussed.  But,  with  that  reserva- 
tion, Luther's  dictum  stands,  "the  Bible  is  the 
manger  in  which  Christ  is  laid," 

There  is,  however,  a  latent  assumption  in 
the  position  which  has  been  laid  down  which 
raises  serious  difficulties,  and  which  therefore 
we  must  examine  with  some  care,  The  assump- 
tion is  that  the  Gospels  are  in  fact  such  records 
that  when  we  read  them  we  can  be  sure  that  we 
are  encountering  the  actual  historic  person  of 
whom  they  claim  to  give  an  account.  There  was 
a  time  when  this  was  not  felt  to  be  an  assump- 
tion, for  most  Christians  accepted  without  any 
question  the  doctrine  of  the  inerrancy  of  the 
scripture  writings.  It  was  believed  that  God 
had  so  operated  on  the  minds  of  the  sacred 
writers  that  they  did  not  write  down  anything 
which  was  not  strictly  accurate  in  every  par- 
ticular. Whatever  was  set  down  in  the  Gospels 
actually  happened  as  therein  set  down.  This  is 
no  longer  a  tenable  view.  It  is  untenable  for 
two  reasons. 

The  first  has  to  do,  once  again,  with  the 
central  Christian  assertion  of  the  Incarnation. 
A  completely  inerrant  record  could  have  been 
produced  only  if  God  had  suspended  the  normal 
processes  of  memory  and  composition  in  the 
rninds  of  the  writers,  and  used  the  latter  not  as 
co-operating  human  persons,  but  as  passive 
instruments  like  a  pen.  But  to  suppose  that 
such  a  diminution  of  the  full  humanity  of  the 
evangelists  was  necessary  to  the  working  out  of 


God's  saving  purpose  in  Christ  is  to  deny  the 
full  historic  humanity  of  the  Savior  himself:  it 
is  to  deny  the  "in  and  through"  aspect  of  God's 
action,  and  so  is  a  partial  denial  of  the  Incar- 
nation. For  to  assert  the  full  humanity  of 
Christ  is  to  assert  the  full  humanity  of  all  the 
conditions  affecting  human  life  under  which 
and  in  the  midst  of  which  he  lived  and  died, 
under  which  he  effected,  and  effects,  his  saving 
work.  Among  such  conditions  must  be  included 
the  normal  mental  processes,  both  of  those  who 
kept  company  with  him  and  whose  memory 
made  the  writing  of  the  Gospels  possible,  and 
of  those  who  actually  wrote  the  Gospels.  This 
is  not  to  deny  that  God  gave  these  men  guid- 
ance and  inspiration  in  their  work;  it  is  merely 
to  assert  that  the  guidance  and  inspiration  were 
given  without  impairing  their  full  humanity  as 
persons,  and  without  setting  up  supernatural 
infallibilities  in  the  midst  of  mankind — a  truth 
far  more  honoring  to  the  wisdom  and  patience 
of  God  than  a  statement  like  that  of  the 
Lutheran  theologian  Quenstedt  to  the  effect 
that 

there  is  in  Canonical  Scripture  no  untruth,  no 
falsity,  no  error,  not  even  in  the  smallest  particular, 
either  in  deed  or  word;  but  all  and  everything  con- 
tained in  it  is  of  the  highest  possible  truth,  whether 
it  be  a  matter  of  Dogma,  Morals,  History,  Chronol- 
ogy, Topography,  or  Nomenclature.  And  no  igno- 
rance, no  lack  of  thought,  no  forgetfulness,  nor 
lapse  of  memory,  either  can  or  ought  to  be  attrib- 
uted to  the  amanuenses  of  the  Holy  Spiiit  in  their 
recording  of  the  sacred  text.8 

The  second  reason  has  to  do  with  the  evi- 
dence afforded  by  the  Gospels  themselves,  and 
calls  for  fuller  treatment.  Scholarly  research  into 
the  Gospels  has  convincingly  shown  that  they 
cannot  be  accepted  in  detail  as  they  stand.  The 
evidence  is  clear  that  they  contain  inaccuracies, 
inconsistencies,  interpolations,  omissions,  over- 
statements, and  so  forth — in  short,  precisely  the 
sort  of  thing  that  normal  mental  processes 
produce.  Moreover,  it  has  become  clear  that  the 
Gospels  were  written  from  the  angle  of  an  over- 
mastering religious  faith  in  Christ  as  the  Savior 
sent  from  God;  indeed,  they  were  intended  to 
convey  that  faith,  and  they  were  not  composed 
as  biographies  in  the  modern  sense.  This  im- 
mediately raises  the  question  whether  we  must 
not  allow  for  the  possibility  that  this  faith 
has  colored  and  distorted  the  historical  facts 
which  the  Gospels  purport  to  describe.  Where 
facts  and  interpretations  of  facts  by  religious 
faith  are  so  inextricably  bound  up  together, 

s  Quoted  by  H.  F.  D.  Sparks,  The  Old  Testament  in 
the  Christian  Church  (London:  Student  Christian  Move- 
ment Press,  1944),  p.  18. 


16 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


how  can  we  have  any  assurance  concerning  the 
facts? 

Before  taking  up  these  two  sources  of  doubt, 
it  will  be  worth  while  to  digress  for  a  moment 
to  insist  that  the  work  of  critical  scholarship  on 
the  Gospels  to  which  reference  has  just  been 
made  has  no  necessary  connection  with  a  cer- 
tain view  which  has  been  characteristic  of  some 
schools  of  liberal  thought.  This  is  the  view 
which  rejects  forthwith  some  elements  in  the 
Gospels  (particularly  the  miraculous  elements) 
on  the  basis  of  the  alleged  inescapable  require- 
ments of  sound  philosophy  and  sound  science. 
It  is  not  necessary  to  discuss  these  alleged  ines- 
capable requirements  here;  it  is  enough  to  state 
that  not  many  competent  authorities  in  this 
sphere  of  philosophical  and  theological  thought 
would  now  find  them  anything  like  so  inescap- 
able as  they  have  been  asserted  by  some  to  be. 
Rather,  it  has  come  to  be  recognized  that  the 
rejection  of  the  miraculous  elements  in  the 
Gospels  on  this  particular  basis  was  a  much  too 
hasty  surrender  of  the  biblical  and  Christian 
outlook  to  what  has  proved  to  be  in  large 
measure  merely  a  prevailing  fashion  of 
thought.9  Nevertheless,  to  admit,  as  we  must, 
the  general  possibility  and  the  historical  actual- 
ity of  the  "mighty  works"  of  Jesus  does  not 
commit  us  to  the  acceptance  of  every  particular 
in  the  gospel  account  of  them.  There  may  be 
other  reasons — as  in  some  cases  there  certainly 
are — for  rejection,  or  at  least  hesitation;  reasons 
which  arise  out  of  that  close  and  reverent  study 
of  the  documents  themselves  which  is  demanded 
from  us  by  the  Christian  faith  in  God's  saving 
action  "in  and  through"  history.  For  as  T.  W. 
Manson  has  well  said,  this  faith  means  "that 
history  takes  on  a  new  significance,  that  the  out- 
standing events  in  which  the  voice  of  God  has 
been  heard,  or  his  hand  discerned,  must  be 
studied  with  the  same  passion  for  accuracy  that 
the  scientist  gives  to  a  chemical  analysis"10 — 
though,  it  may  be  well  to  add,  not  by  the  same 
methods  or  on  the  same  presuppositions.  In 
biblical  study  we  are  now  in  a  "postliberal" 
period,  but  we  can  never  pass  into  a  "postcrit- 
ical"  one,  for  the  obligation  to  use  every  re- 
source of  scholarship  upon  our  documents  in 
order  to  know,  so  far  as  we  are  able,  what 
really  did  happen,  springs,  it  must  be  repeated, 
from  the  nature  of  the  gospel'itself  as  a  gospel 
of  God's  action  in  history.11 

Let  us  return  now  to  the  two  causes  of  doubt 

9  See  below,  p.  26.  For  a  general  discussion  of  miracles 
in   relation    to    science,   see   Herbert   H.    Farmer,    The 
World  and  God  (New  York:  Harper  &  Bros.,  1935). 

10  "The  Failure  of  Liberalism  to  Interpret  the  Bible  as 
the  Word  of  God/'  in  The  Interpretation  of  the  Bible, 
ed.    C.   W.   Dugmore    (London:    Society  for  Promoting 
Christian  Knowledge,  1944),  p.  104. 

"  See  Dodd,  The  Bible  Today,  p.  26. 


above  mentioned  concerning  the  capacity  of 
the  Gospels  to  confront  us  with  the  historic 
person  of  Jesus. 

1.  The  Trustworthiness  of  the  Gospel  Rec- 
ords.— With  regard  to  the  first  cause  of  doubt 
it  can  be  said  that  the  fact  that  critical  scholar- 
ship lays  bare  in  the  Gospels  as  they  stand  a 
number  of  inconsistencies,  inaccuracies,  and  so 
forth,  is  not  able  by  itself  to  support  the  con- 
clusion suggested,  namely,  that  we  cannot  arrive 
at  assured  knowledge  of  the  historical  facts.  It 
does  not  do  more  than  define  the  task  with 
which  reverent  critical  scholarship  is  confronted, 
a  hard  enough  task,  to  be  sure,  and  one  which 
requires  the  full  and  responsible  use  of  all  the 
resources  available,  but  not  a  task  which  is 
foredoomed  to  failure.  On  the  contrary,  if  we 
share  the  Christian  faith  about  Christ,  we  are 
entitled  to  believe  that  since  it  is  a  task  which 
God  has  laid  upon  us  through  the  inevitable 
developments  of  scholarship,  it  is  destined  to 
succeed.  There  is  no  reason  to  think  that  the 
Holy  Spirit  does  not  take  the  things  of  Christ 
and  show  them  to  scholars  as  much  as  to  other 
believers.12  In  any  case,  the  question  of  success 
or  failure  must  not  be  prejudged:  it  must  be 
decided  by  the  outcome  of  the  enterprise  itself. 
At  this  point,  however,  we  are  met  by  the 
allegation  made  by  some  that  the  outcome  is 
already  clear  enough,  that  so  soon  as  we  sur- 
render belief  in  the  absolute  trustworthiness  of 
the  gospel  records,  and  begin  to  try,  by  methods 
of  critical  research,  to  establish  what  "really 
happened/'  we  find  ourselves  lost  in  a  quagmire 
of  conflicting  suggestions  and  theories.  Every 
critical  scholar,  it  is  said,  creates  his  own  pic- 
ture of  Jesus  and  of  the  events  of  his  life,  select- 
ing his  material  according  to  his  own  fancy, 
accepting  this,  rejecting  that,  explaining  away 
something  else,  as  his  own  sense  of  "what  must 
have  happened"  may  dictate.  The  real  Jesus 
vanishes  behind  a  cloud  of  conflicting  theories 
and  suppositions.  The  answer  to  this  allegation 
is  simply  that  it  is  not  true,  or  in  so  far  as  it  is 
true,  it  is  true  with  the  crucial  qualification 
that  it  is  so  in  the  main  only  of  those  pictures 
of  Jesus  set  forth  by  unbelieving  and  frequently 
not  very  well-equipped  critics.  Those  who  for 
one  reason  or  another  desire  to  retain  the  old 
view  of  the  literal  inerrancy  and  absolute  trust- 
worthiness of  the  records  are  always  inclined  to 
exaggerate  the  extent  to  which  the  modern 
critical  study  of  the  Gospels  undertaken  by 
Christian  scholars  has  issued  only  in  the  multi- 
plication of  perplexities.  In  some  ways  the 
exact  reverse  is  true.  A  fuller,  more  concrete, 
more  consistent,  and  historically  more  credible 

"  See  below,  p.  18,  about  the  value  for  the  Christian 
life  of  the  questions  raised  by  modern  research  into  the 
Gospels. 


17 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


portrait  of  Jesus  than  has  been  possible  hith- 
erto is  now  available  to  us,  mainly  as  the  result 
of  the  researches  of  modern  scholars.  To  be  sure, 
there  is  always  a  certain  fluidity  in  the  picture: 
it  changes  as  this  or  that  line  of  inquiry  is 
pursued,  this  or  that  hypothesis  is  put  forward, 
discussed,  tested,  modified,  partially  rejected, 
partially  accepted  and  incorporated  in  the  pic- 
ture which  is  being  formed;  nevertheless,  it 
remains  substantially  and  recognizably  the  pic- 
ture o£  the  same  transcendent  Person.  The  proc- 
ess might  be  compared  to  the  changes  which 
pass  over  a  landscape  as  the  clouds  float  across 
the  sky;  the  light  falls  first  here,  then  there, 
partially  obscuring,  partially  revealing,  yet  al- 
ways disclosing  the  same  landscape  and  its  love- 
liness. In  the  oft-quoted  words  of  Browning: 

That  one  Face,  far  from  vanish,  rather  grows, 

Or  decomposes  but  to  recompose, 

Become  my  universe  that  feels  and  knows.18 

It  may  indeed  be  maintained,  as  it  was  years 
ago  by  Wilhelm  Herrmann,  that  in  so  far  as 
historical  research  raises  questions  as  to  what 
exactly  happened  in  the  earthly  life  of  Jesus 
Christ,  it  does  a  real  service  to  the  Christian 
faith.  It  serves  to  shake  the  Christian  again  and 
again  out  of  what  Herrmann  calls  "the  lazy 
acquiescence  of  the  natural  man,"  and  to  guard 
him  against  being  arrested  in  some  supposedly 
final  resting  place  in  his  knowledge  of  God 
through  Christ.  Herrmann  writes: 

Historical  work  on  the  New  Testament  .  .  . 
destroys  certain  false  props  of  faith,  and  that  is  a 
great  gain.  The  Christian  who  imagines  that  the 
reliability  of  the  records  as  historical  documents 
gives  certainty  to  his  faith.,  is  duly  startled  from 
his  false  repose  by  the  work  of  the  historian,  which 
ought  to  make  it  clear  to  such  a  man  that  the 
possession  of  Christianity  cannot  be  obtained  so 
cheaply  as  lie  thinks.1* 

Furthermore,  the  fact  that  historical  research  is 
always  raising  questions  about  Jesus  Christ  con- 

13  "Epilogue:  Dramatis  Personae";  cf  C.  H.  Dodd, 
History  and  the  Gospel  (New  York:  Charles  Scribner's 
Sons,  1938),  ch.  iii.  Having  discussed  the  various  groups 
of  material,  as  reconstructed  by  form  criticism,  which 
have  gone  to  the  making  of  the  Gospels,  Dodd  concludes: 
"They  do  set  Jesus  before  us  as  a  clear-cut  Figure  in 
word  and  action.  And  although  the  points  of  view  differ, 
we  cannot  avoid  the  impression  that  it  is  the  same  picture 
that  we  are  seeing  from  them  all"  (p.  92).  Again:  "In 
the  fourth  decade  of  the  first  century  the  Christian 
Church  grew  up  around  a  central  tradition,  which,  how- 
ever it  is  expressed— in  preaching,  in  story,  in  teaching 
and  in  liturgical  practice— yields  a  coherent  picture  of 
Jesus  Christ,  what  He  was,  what  He  stood  for,  what  He 
said,  did  and  suffered"  (p.  110). 

1A  The  Communion  of  the  Christian  -with  God,  tr. 
J.  Sandys  Stanton  (2nd  ed.;  London:  Williams  &  Norgate, 
1906),  pp.  76-77. 


18 


tinually  compels  the  church  and  the  individual 
believer  to  explore  afresh  the  significance  of 
Jesus  Christ,  continually  compels  us  to  ask  our- 
selves whether  we  are  really  grasping  "what  He 
was,  what  He  stood  for,  what  He  said,  did  and 
suffered/'  whether  we  are  really  entering  into 
the  riches  which  are  offered  us  in  him.  A  good 
example  of  this  kind  of  service  is  the  way  in 
which  many  at  the  beginning  of  the  twentieth 
century,  who  were  inclined  to  settle  down  too 
easily  in  the  liberal  view  of  Jesus  as  a  supreme 
teacher  and  exemplar  of  the  fatherhood  of  God 
and  the  brotherhood  of  man  and  as  such  taking 
his  place  in  the  continuous  upward  "progress" 
of  mankind  to  better  things,  were  shaken  out 
of  that  position  by  the  work  of  scholars  such  as 
Johannes  Weiss,  Albert  Schweitzer,  and  Alfred 
Loisy,  who  compelled  attention  to  the  dominant 
place  of  eschatological  belief  in  the  Gospels  and 
in  the  New  Testament  generally.  In  view  of  all 
this,  it  is  wrong  to  regard  the  tension  between 
Christian  faith  and  historical  research  as  a 
burden  of  which,  if  it  were  possible,  we  would 
rather  be  relieved.  On  the  contrary,  one  may 
think  rather  that  it  is  of  the  good  providence 
of  God  that  the  Gospels  have  come  down  to  us 
in  their  present  form,  requiring  ever-renewed 
study  and  exploration. 

2.  The  Gospels  as  Faith  Documents. — The 
second  source  of  difficulty  proves  on  examina- 
tion to  be  of  no  greater  weight,  though  it  looks 
at  first  sight  very  formidable.  The  suggestion  is 
that  it  is  impossible  for  us  to  encounter  the  his- 
toric Jesus  when  we  read  the  Gospels,  because 
we  have  in  them  an  account  written  from  the 
angle  of  faith  in  him:  that  is  to  say,  we  are 
presented  (so  it  is  alleged)  not  with  the  facts 
as  such,  but  with  a  religious  interpretation  of 
them,  an  interpretation  which  may  well  lead 
in  places  to  distortion  and  misrepresentation. 

In  reply  to  this  allegation  it  is  necessary  to 
consider  whether  there  does  not  lurk  behind  it 
an  untenable  theory  of  knowledge.  The  error 
is  to  suppose  that  if  we  are  really  to  get  to 
know  a  reality  of  any  sort,  then  we  must  some- 
how get  to  know  it  "in  and  for  itself"  as  bare 
fact,  that  is,  out  of  relation  to  the  impression 
it  makes  upon  us  or  upon  anybody  else.  Thus — 
to  take  an  example  from  another  sphere — it  is 
supposed,  on  this  view,  that  when  I  look  at  a 
rose,  the  color,  fragrance,  and  beauty  of  it  are 
merely  impressions  in  my  rnind  which  the  rose 
causes,  but  which  are  not  aspects  of  its  essential 
being.  The  impressions  are  a  sort  of  curtain 
behind  which  the  real  rose — the  "rose  in  itself" 
— remains  hidden.  In  so  far  as  the  real  rose  is 
pictured  at  all,  it  is  pictured  as  merely  a  source 
of  energy  which,  radiating  from  it,  causes  vibra- 
tory impulses  to  run  up  the  nerves  to  the  brain 
cells,  where  they  are  transformed  into  sensory 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


and  aesthetic  impressions.  The  latter,  however, 
are  "no  more  like  the  real  rose  than  the  knock 
on  the  door  is  like  the  postman."  It  is  out  of 
place  here  to  discuss  this  phenomenalist  theory 
of  knowledge:  its  deficiencies  have  often  enough 
been  discussed  by  the  philosophers.  It  is  suffi- 
cient to  make  the  obvious  point  which  this 
theory  involves,  that  we  cannot  really  know  any 
object  at  all,  for  obviously  we  cannot  know  an 
object  unless  it  makes  some  impact  upon  us;  yet 
on  this  view,  directly  it  makes  such  an  impact, 
it  goes  into  hiding,  so  to  speak,  behind  it.  It  is 
much  more  satisfactory  to  suppose  (as  we  do 
normally  suppose)  that  it  is  the  real  rose  which 
is  given  to  us  in  its  color,  shape,  scent,  and 
beauty.  It  is  part  of  the  reality  of  the  object 
we  call  a  rose  that  it  is  in  a  world  along  with 
conscious  minds  which  are  in  rapport  with 
their  world  through  a  nervous  system,  and  that 
when  it  encounters  such  minds  it  offers  itself, 
as  it  were,  to  them  as  color,  shape,  scent,  and 
beauty.  It  does  not  hide  behind  these,  but 
rather  completes  itself  in  them,  discloses  its 
reality  and  significance  through  them. 

Now  a  similar  and  equally  unsatisfactory 
theory  of  knowledge  may  lie  behind  the  notion 
we  are  considering,  namely,  that  since  we  have 
in  the  Gospels  a  report  and  interpretation  of 
Jesus  and  of  the  events  of  his  life,  written  down 
by  those  who  had  a  profound  religious  faith 
concerning  him,  therefore  the  real,  historic  facts 
are  inaccessible  to  us.  We  are  asked,  in  effect, 
to  suppose  that  there  was  a  Jesus  "in  and  for 
himself"  independently  of  the  relations  he  en- 
tered into  with  other  people  and  the  impact  he 
made  upon  them,  and  that  this,  and  this  alone, 
was  the  "real"  Jesus.  But  the  truth  is  that  there 
are  no  persons  "in  and  for  themselves."  To  be 
a  person  in  history  is  to  be  in  relation  with 
other  persons,  to  act  and  react  with  them  in  a 
continuous  interplay  of  reciprocal  meanings, 
valuations,  and  interpretations.  And  the  "real- 
ity" of  a  person  can  in  greater  or  less  degree  be 
truly  known  through  these  relationships:  he  dis- 
closes himself,  gives  himself  to  others,  through 
thus  meeting  with  them.  If  he  cannot  be  so 
known,  then  he  cannot  be  known  as  a  person 
at  all.  By  the  same  argument,  there  are  in  his- 
tory no  such  things  as  bare  facts  or  events,  for 
history  is  the  sphere  of  persons  in  relationship 
with  one  another,  and  events,  in  so  far  as  they 
are  factors  in  history,  and  not  merely  in  imper- 
sonal nature,  are  all  events  having  meaning  to, 
and  interpreted  by,  persons.  There  is  therefore 
no  reason  to  think  that  because  in  the  Gospels 
we  are  presented  with  an  account  of  Jesus  as  he 
entered  into  the  religious  faith  of  men  and 
women  with  whom  he  had  the  closest  personal 
relationships,  that  we  cannot  encounter  his  his- 
torical reality  through  that  account.  If  we  do  so 


suppose,  it  can  only  be  on  grounds  which  make 
it  impossible  to  know  the  world  of  history  at  all, 
either  in  the  past  or  in  the  present;  and  the 
labors  of  historians,  in  so  far  as  they  go  beyond 
the  merely  external  cataloguing  of  dates,  be- 
come a  perpetual  chasing  of  what  can  never  be 
attained. 

It  may  be  said,  however,  that  even  if  all  this 
is  granted,  the  interpretation  of  Jesus  that  lies 
behind  and  within  the  Gospels  and  the  New 
Testament  generally  may,  for  all  we  know,  be 
false  and  distortingly  imposed  upon  the  facts,  so 
that  while  it  cannot  be  denied  that  we  may 
know  the  real  Jesus  through  them,  nevertheless 
we  can  never  be  sure  that  we  do.  The 
answer  to  this  is  to  point  out  that  it  has  never 
been  maintained  by  the  Christian  faith  that  it 
is  possible  to  know  with  growingly  unassailable 
conviction  the  reality  of  Jesus  as  he  is  appre- 
hended by  that  faith  merely  by  reading  and 
studying  the  Gospels  and  the  New  Testament  in 
a  completely  detached  way,  if  indeed  that  is 
ever  possible.  It  is  part  of  the  faith  that  a  tran- 
scendent factor  is  involved,  namely,  the  risen 
Christ  working  through  the  Holy  Spirit  in  the 
Christian  community.  All  we  have  been  con- 
cerned to  show  is  that  if  it  is  true,  as  we  have 
maintained  it  to  be,  that  it  is  an  essential  part 
of  Christ's  work  for  us  that  we  should  encounter 
and  continually  re-encounter  him  in  his  historic 
self -manifestation,  then  the  difficulty  which 
some  feel  that  we  cannot  so  encounter  him 
because  of  the  nature  of  the  records  is  not  a 
reasonable  one,  for  it  rests  on  very  questionable 
epistemological  presuppositions.  It  is  clear,  in- 
deed, that  if  the  Christian  faith  is  valid  and 
Christ  does  in  fact  have  the  transcendent  sig- 
nificance claimed  for  him,  then  only  an  account 
written  from  the  angle  of  that  faith  could 
convey  a  historically  trustworthy  impression  of 
him.  Furthermore,  this  impression  will  not  be 
nullified  by  the  fact  that  doubtfully  accurate 
statements  enter  here  and  there  into  the  ac- 
count— the  total  impact  of  the  man  Jesus  Christ, 
as  he  evokes  and  sustains  faith  in  himself,  will 
still  remain  unimpaired.  On  the  other  hand, 
even  if  the  Christian  faith  were  false,  it  would 
still  not  follow  that  because  the  Gospels  are 
written  from  the  angle  of  such  a  mistaken  be- 
lief, they  therefore  cannot  convey  to  us  a  good 
deal  of  the  real  historic  quality  of  Christ's  per- 
sonality and  life.  For  this  at  least  we  know  for 
certain,  that  Jesus  Christ  was  the  historic  per- 
son who  evoked  that  faith.  Nothing  can  alter 
that  remarkable  fact  and  all  that  has  flowed 
from  it;  and  no  study  of  Jesus  Christ  which 
claims  to  be  historically  grounded,  but  which 
does  not  earnestly  seek  to  do  justice  to  that  fact, 
is  worth  consideration.  In  that  fact  more  than 
in  any  other  the  real  Jesus  is  disclosed.  It  is  at 


19 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


this  point  that  many  studies  of  Jesus  Christ 
made  by  skeptical  minds  fail,  and  must  be 
judged  unscientific.  They  seek  to  appraise  the 
story  of  Jesus  without  giving  due  weight  to  the 
faith  he  evoked  and  to  the  Christian  movement 
which  sprang  from  him.  It  may  be  stated  as  a 
definite  principle  for  the  study  of  the  Gospels 
that  those  reconstructions  of  the  life  of  Jesus 
Christ,  which,  if  true,  would  leave  the  Christian 
movement  and  its  faith,  as  it  were,  in  mid-air, 
must  be  false. 

This  leads  to  a  word  on  the  question  of  how 
written  records  from  the  past,  or  rather  the 
reading  and  exposition  of  them,  can  be  taken 
up  into,  and  share  in,  Christ's  present  living  and 
ruling  relationship  to  the  church. 

3.  Hozv  Written  Records  Enter  into  Christ's 
Living  Relationship  to  the  Church. — It  might 
be  considered  sufficient  answer  to  the  question 
to  say,  as  has  already  been  implied,  that  it  is 
the  work  of  the  Holy  Spirit  to  bring  this  about; 
but  to  say  that  and  nothing  more  carries  per- 
haps too  much  the  suggestion  of  a  merely  in- 
comprehensible and  miraculous  tour  de  force. 
We  get  a  little  light  on  the  matter  by  looking 
at  it  from  the  angle  of  the  whole  Christian  faith 
concerning  Christ,  even  though  in  the  last 
analysis  the  way  of  the  Spirit's  working  must 
remain  a  mystery.  To  look  at  it  from  this  angle 
has  the  further  advantage  of  enabling  us  to  see 
once  again  how  the  significance  and  authority  of 
the  Bible  are  inseparably  bound  up  with  the 
whole  organism  of  Christian  faith  and  experi- 
ence, and  cannot  rightly  be  understood  apart 
from  it. 

If  the  Christian  faith  concerning  Christ  is 
true,  then  he  stands  in  his  historical  and  human 
self-manifestation,  despite  the  ever-lengthening 
interval  between  that  manifestation  and  those 
who  come  after  him,  in  a  peculiarly  deep  rela- 
tionship of  contemporaneousness  to  all  men. 
This  is  true  in  three  ways: 

In  the  first  place,  if  the  Christian  faith  con- 
cerning him  is  valid,  then  the  Christ  who  en- 
counters us  in  the  pages  of  the  New  Testament, 
while  he  has  the  concrete  individuality  of  his- 
toric personality,  is  the  true  universal  of  human 
nature.  We  implicitly  recognize  this  in  the  way 
in  which  we  believe  it  to  be  possible  and  desir- 
able for  any  man  to  be  Christlike  without  losing 
his  distinctive  individuality.  This  means  that 
Christ  is  profoundly  and  uniquely  related  to 
the  inner  being  of  every  man  in  every  age.  He  is 
the  realization  in  concrete,  historical  reality  of 
that  norm  which  God  made  constitutive  of 
human  nature  when  he  created  man,  and  which, 
though  it  is  frustrated  and  perverted  by  sin,  can 
never  be  entirely  destroyed. 

In  the  second  place,  if  the  Christian  faith 
concerning  him  is  valid,  the  Christ  who  meets 


us  in  the  pages  of  the  New  Testament,  being 
the  Incarnation  of  the  very  nature  and  purpose 
of  the  personal  God,  is  profoundly  and  uniquely 
related  to  the  outward  environment  of  all  men, 
particularly  the  environment  of  personal  rela- 
tionships which  constitutes  what  we  call  history. 
The  ultimate  reality  with  which  men  have  to 
deal  in  their  present  situations  and  tasks  is  a 
personal  order,  deriving  its  essential  nature  and 
meaning  from  a  personal  divine  will  whose 
character  and  direction  are  manifested  fully  in 
the  person  of  Christ.  Christ  is,  as  it  were,  a  clear 
and  focused,  a  "concreted/'  revelation  of  that  of 
which  the  historical  existence  of  men — life  as 
they  have  every  day  to  live  it  and  meet  it — is  a 
clouded  and  distorted  one. 

These  first  two  points  might  be  expressed  to- 
gether by  saying  that  Christ  is  every  man's  con- 
temporary because  the  whole  of  reality,  par- 
ticularly in  its  relation  to  the  world  of  persons 
— both  in  its  inward  and  its  outward  manifesta- 
tions—is Christ-grained,  Christ-patterned  (John 
1:1-18;  Col.  1:15-19). 

In  the  third  place,  if  the  Christian  faith  con- 
cerning him  is  valid,  Christ  is  men's  contempo- 
rary, not  merely  because  he  is  the  expression  in 
concrete  individuality  of  the  "essence"  of  man 
and  of  the  personal  order,  but  also  because  he 
is  a  living,  personal  purpose  and  presence  who, 
through  the  Holy  Spirit,  is  seeking  actively  and 
personally  now  to  encounter  men  and  claim 
them. 

All  these  aspects  of  what  has  been  called  the 
contemporaneousness  of  Christ,  which  are  im- 
plicit in  the  Christian  faith  concerning  him, 
shed  at  least  a  little  light  on  the  way  in  which 
the  Gospels  and  the  New  Testament  cease  to  be 
"dead"  and  "dated"  documents  from  the  past, 
and  become  part  of  the  present  saving  ministry 
of  the  Redeemer.  It  is  not  a  question  of  leaping 
over  a  gap  of  almost  two  thousand  years  out  of 
Britain  or  the  United  States  of  today  into 
first-century  Palestine,  and  sitting  at  the  feet  of 
one  who,  however  impressive,  is  alien  to  us. 
That  would  be  the  situation  if  Jesus  were  an 
ordinary  man  with  no  unique  significance.  But 
it  is  the  Christian  faith  and  experience  that  he 
is  not  an  ordinary  man:  rather,  there  is  incar- 
nate in  him  the  divine  will  and  purpose  which 
lie  behind  and  are  at  work  in  every  human  life 
and  all  history. 

We  may  give  other  expression  to  the  same 
truth — the  truth  that  Christ's  relationship  to 
the  Christian  man  is  at  one  and  the  same  time 
that  of  a  historical  figure  in  the  past  depicted 
in  the  Gospels  and  that  of  a  contemporaneous 
reality  deeply  related  to  his  inward  being  and 
his  outward  environment — by  insisting,  as  Chris- 
tianity has  always  insisted,  that  Christ's  saving 
work  and  presence  are  mediated  through  the 


20 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


Christian  fellowship,  through  the  new  covenant 
community.  The  Christian  fellowship  is  a  com- 
munity which  is  as  fully  contemporaneous  with 
the  believer  as  are  the  living  men  and  women 
who  constitute  its  membership  and  meet  him 
in  day-to-day  "I-thou"  relationships;  but  at  the 
same  time  it  is  deeply  and  consciously  rooted  in 
and  continuous  with  a  past  which  runs  back 
through  the  centuries  to  the  historical  Christ 
himself.  And  both  these  aspects  are  inseparably 
involved  in  its  function  as  mediating  Christ. 
When  I  participate  in  the  life  of  the  church,  I 
encounter  Christ  actively  disclosing  himself  to 
me  now  in  and  through  an  order  of  living  per- 
sonal relationships  which,  despite  its  faults  and 
failings — nay,  in  some  measure  because  of  its 
faults  and  failings,  or  rather,  because  of  the 
opportunity  for  distinctively  Christian  forbear- 
ance and  forgiveness  which  these  afford — mani- 
festly bears  the  mark  of  his  mind  and  spirit. 
Christ  looks  at  me,  as  it  were,  through  the  eyes 
of  contemporary  men  and  women  in  whom  he 
dwells.  But  I  also  encounter  the  historic  Christ 
of  long  ago;  for  the  church's  long  past,  which 
goes  right  back  to  the  first  disciples  whom  he 
gathered  around  him  in  Palestine,  and  without 
the  explicit  consciousness  of  which  it  would  not 
be  what  it  is,  now  becomes  my  past,  my  memory, 
my  history.15  This  is  why  the  study  and  exposi- 
tion of  the  Scriptures,  particularly  the  New 
Testament,  within  the  worshiping  fellowship  of 
the  church,  is  something  so  very  different  from 
the  study  of  them  by  one  whose  interest  is 
merely  in  historical  or  antiquarian  research. 
Such  study  and  exposition  are  integrally  one 
with  the  life  of  the  fellowship  itself:  they  illu- 
mine and  are  reciprocally  illumined  by  the 
whole  organism  of  redeemed  personal  relation- 
ships which  the  New  Testament  calls  the  body 
of  Christ.  Perhaps  the  supreme  illustration  of 
these  truths  is  the  sacrament  of  the  Last  Supper. 
In  the  symbolism  of  this  solemn  and  central  rite 
the  church  deliberately  goes  back  through  the 
centuries  to  the  Redeemer's  earthly  life;  it  obeys 
his  direct  injunction  spoken  by  his  human  lips 
so  many  hundreds  of  years  ago;  it  re-enacts  his 
words  and  deeds  as  recorded  in  the  Scriptures, 
which  are  read  at  the  rite  itself.  Nevertheless, 
it  is  the  faith  and  experience  of  the  church  that 
the  rite  is  never  a  mere  recalling  of  the  past;  it 
is  not  mere  commemoration.  In  and  through  it 
there  is  a  present  communion  with  the  risen 
and  living  Lord. 

B.  Limits  of  the  Canon. — We  now  turn  to  the 
second  of  the  two  questions  which  arise  in  con- 
nection with  the  understanding  of  the  norma- 

"Cf.  Nicolas  Berdyaev,  The  Meaning  of  History,  tr. 
George  Reavey  (New  York:  Charles  Scribner's  Sons, 
1936),  p.  16. 


tive  place  of  the  Bible  within  the  church, 
namely,  why  the  writings  which  are  essential  to 
the  present  efficacy  of  Christ's  saving  and  ruling 
office  in  the  church  should  be  limited  to  the 
present  contents  of  the  Bible.  This  is  to  raise 
— from  the  theological  angle — the  question  of 
the  limits  of  the  canon.16 

So  far  as  the  Old  Testament  is  concerned,  the 
question  is  not  a  difficult  one  in  principle,  nor 
an  important  one  in  practice.  In  principle,  it 
would  be  impossible  to  deny  a  place  in  the  Old 
Testament  to  any  writing  which  was  manifestly 
important  as  participating  in  and  witnessing  to, 
and  so  enabling  us  more  fully  to  grasp,  the 
divine  activity  in  the  history  of  the  old  covenant 
people  preparing  and  leading  up  to  the  coming 
of  Christ.  In  practice,  the  question  has  no  im- 
portance because  the  advent  of  Christ  itself  put 
a  final  limit  to  the  old  covenant  history  con- 
sidered as  preparatory  to  that  advent.  There 
cannot,  therefore,  be  any  more  candidates  for 
canonicity,  except  in  the  extremely  remote  con- 
tingency of  a  new  manuscript  belonging  to  the 
Old  Testament  period  being  discovered. 
Though  this  is  an  eventuality  so  improbable 
as  to  be  hardly  worth  considering,  nevertheless 
it  is  clear  that  if  it  did  happen,  the  church 
would  have  to  consider  the  claim  of  the  writing 
in  question  to  be  included  in  the  canon.  The 
only  question  which  might  be  considered  to 
remain  open  is  that  of  the  Apocrypha,  or  rather, 
of  those  books  in  the  Apocrypha  which  help  to 
bridge  the  gap  between  the  two  Testaments, 
and  therefore  to  give  knowledge  of  the  history 
of  the  old  covenant  people  immediately  prior  to 
the  Incarnation  itself  (e.g.,  I  and  II  Macca- 
bees) .  In  principle,  there  is  no  reason  why  the 
churches  which  now  exclude  the  Apocrypha 
from  the  Bible  should  not  at  any  time  recon- 
sider the  matter  from  this  angle;  but  there  does 
not  appear  to  be  any  reason  why  they  should 
do  so,  for  the  books  are  in  any  case  available 
to  Christian  scholars  and  thinkers,  and  none  of 
them  is  so  strong  a  candidate  (though  some 
might  well  be  thought  stronger  candidates  than, 
say,  the  Song  of  Songs  or  Esther)  as  to  make  it 
worth  while  to  open  up  what  would  probably 
prove  a  thorny  and  divisive  question. 

The  question  of  the  limits  of  the  canon  is  not 
so  easily  disposed  of  in  relation  to  the  New 
Testament.  The  church  as  the  new  covenant 
community  is  still  going  on,  so  that  there  is  not, 
as  there  is  in  the  case  of  the  Old  Testament, 
an  inevitable  chronological  limit  to  the  writings 
which  might  be  considered  to  be  candidates  for 
canonicity.  Why,  then,  should  not  later  writings 

16  See  also  articles  "The  Canon  of  the  Old  Testament'* 
(pp.  32-45);  "The  Canon  of  the  New  Testament'*  (pp. 
63-71). 


21 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


than  those  at  present  comprising  the  New 
Testament,  some  of  them  on  a  very  high  level 
of  inspiration,  which  have  been  produced  as 
part  of  the  ongoing  life  of  the  church  through- 
out the  ages,  enter  as  indispensably  into  the 
present  living  relationship  of  Christ  to  his 
people? 

To  answer  this  question  we  must  go  back 
once  again  to  the  central  Christian  affirmation 
of  the  Incarnation.  We  must  again  insist  that 
the  divine  saving  action  in  Christ  was  "in  and 
through"  as  well  as  "into"  history.  This  "in- 
and-through-ness"  implies  that  we  must  include 
in  the  scope  of  that  action  more  than  the  human 
person  of  Christ.  We  must  include  in  some 
measure  the  other  human  persons  and  events  in 
immediate  relation  to  which  his  life,  death,  and 
resurrection  were  wrought  out  and  the  new 
revelation  made.  If  we  do  not  thus  widen  the 
scope  of  the  divine  action,  we  must  suppose 
either  that  it  was  a  matter  of  chance  whether 
the  revelation  in  Christ  would  prove  effective  as 
a  revelation,  or  that  its  effectiveness  was  inde- 
pendent of  genuine  historical  conditions — in 
other  words,  that  there  was  no  real  historic  In- 
carnation at  all. 

The  question  is:  In  what  measure  must  we 
include  the  human  persons  and  events  in  rela- 
tion to  which  the  life  of  the  Redeemer  was 
wrought  out?  This  raises  some  formidable  prob- 
lems, as,  for  example,  in  what  sense  must  we 
include  the  betrayal  by  Judas  and  the  rejection 
by  the  Jerusalem  authorities  in  the  divine  plan 
to  enter  history  and  save  mankind  through 
Christ.  Such  questions  run  out  into  some  of  the 
oldest  and  most  intractable  problems  of  philo- 
sophical theology,  but  fortunately  there  is  no 
need  to  consider  them  here.  Our  interest  is 
simply  in  God's  bringing  into  existence  the  new 
covenant  community  of  saved  men  and  women 
which  should  be  both  the  first  fruits  and  the 
agent  of  God's  saving  purpose  toward  mankind 
in  Christ.  Clearly,  if  this  was  to  be  accomplished, 
it  was  necessary  that  the  divine  action  should 
include  the  provision  of  men  who  would  not 
only  keep  company  with  Christ  in  the  actual 
unfolding  of  his  historic  life,  death,  and  resur- 
rection, but  also  discern  the  transcendent  mean- 
ing of  these  events,  and  be  sent  forth  to  bear 
witness  to  it.  The  calling  of  such  men,  and  the 
continual  quickening  of  their  minds  and  hearts 
to  fulfill  the  calling,  we  can  think  of  only  as  the 
mysterious  work  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  As  Christ 
himself  said,  when  Peter  confessed  that  he  was 
the  Christ,  "Flesh  and  blood  hath  not  revealed 
it  unto  thee,  but  my  Father  which  is  in  heaven" 
(Matt.  16:17) .  But  whatever  the  mystery  of  the 
divine  working,  the  indispensability  of  these 
men  is  obvious.  Only  in  their  response  does  the 


22 


divine  intention  and  act  of  revelation  complete 
itself.  Had  there  been  no  such  men, 

the  story  of  Jesus  would  not  have  become  a  revela- 
tion to  humanity;  it  would  not  have  become  the 
Word  of  God.  It  would  have  echoed  and  re-echoed, 
like  a  sound  which  passes  unheard  in  a  primeval 
forest.  It  would  have  been  like  a  bridge  which  had 
been  begun  from  one  side  of  a  river,  but  which 
never  reached  the  other  side.17 

So  the  first  apostles  come  into  view  as  essentially 
and  indispensably  involved  in  the  process  of  a 
historic  incarnation  and  revelation. 

The  word  "apostle"  in  New  Testament  usage 
is  nowhere  exactly  defined,  but  it  seems  clear 
that  in  essence  it  signifies  precisely  those  who 
were  called  to  play  this  crucial  part  in  the 
totality  of  the  divine  action  in  Christ.  Perhaps 
the  best  description  of  their  function  is  given 
in  the  words:  "That  which  ...  we  have  heard, 
which  we  have  seen  with  our  eyes,  which  we 
have  looked  upon,  and  our  hands  have  handled, 
of  the  Word  of  life.  .  .  .  That  which  we  have 
seen  and  heard  declare  we  unto  you"  (I  John 
1:1,  3;  cf.  I  Cor.  9:1,  "Am  I  not  an  apostle?  .  .  . 
have  I  not  seen  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord?")  There 
is,  however,  an  important  element  to  be  added 
to  this  description,  the  element  indicated  by  the 
word  apostle  itself.  It  is  an  essential  part  of 
the  content  of  the  divine  revelation,  and  of  its 
apprehension  by  those  whose  eyes  saw  and 
whose  hands  handled  the  Word  of  life,  that 
these  last  should  be  sent,  and  be  conscious  of 
themselves  as  sent,  to  declare  it  to  the  world. 
In  the  sending  of  the  apostles,  and  through  the 
sending  of  the  apostles,  the  purpose  of  God  as 
manifested  in  Christ  is  set  forth  as  a  redemptive 
purpose  which  is  impelled  by  its  essential  nature 
to  go  out  to  all  mankind.  "As  my  Father  hath 
sent  me,  even  so  send  I  you"  (John  20:21) . 
Obvious  as  this  may  appear  to  be,  it  is  of  the 
greatest  importance  for  a  right  doctrine  of  re- 
demption and  of  the  church.  Christian  thought 
has  been  too  much  dominated  by  what  someone 
has  called  "the  ark"  view  of  salvation,  the  view, 
that  is,  that  being  saved  consists  in  being  res- 
cued from  something,  whereas  it  consists  just  as 
much  in  being  sent  to  do  something;  the  "being- 
sent-to-do"  is  essentially  part  of  the  "being- 
rescued-from."  "Apostolicity"  or  "being-sent- 
ness"  lies  therefore  at  the  very  heart  of  the 
Christian  revelation,  springing  as  it  does  from 
what  one  may  perhaps  venture  to  call  the 
"apostolic"  activity  of  God — God  in  his  saving 
purpose  sends  the  Son,  and  the  Son  sends  those 
who  respond  to  his  revelation  and  call. 

The  first  apostles,  then,  stand  in  a  distinctive 

17  Emil  Brunner,  Revelation  and  Reason,  tr.  O.  Wyon 
(Philadelphia:  Westminster  Press,  1946),  p.  122.  My 
thought  at  this  point  is  indebted  to  Brunner. 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


position  within  the  divine  saving  revelation  in 
Christ,  and  in  the  bringing  into  existence  of  the 
new  covenant  community.  They  participate  in 
the  historic  actuality  of  the  Incarnation,  and  it 
is  an  essential  element  in  the  participation  that 
they  are  sent  into  the  world  to  bear  witness  to 
it.  The  bearing  witness  had  to  be  in  the  first 
instance  oral — the  preaching  of  the  gospel — 
but  it  is  evident  that  if  any  of  the  apostolic 
circle  gave  any  sort  of  expression  to  the  message 
in  writing,  or  was  the  immediate  source  or  in- 
spiration of  such  writing,  the  writing  in  ques- 
tion would  have  a  special  significance  and 
status.  It  would  itself  be  part  of,  an  immediate 
deposit  of,  the  great  originative  historic  event 
itself,  and  no  writing  subsequently  produced  by 
others  could  possibly  have  the  same  significance 
and  status. 

That  it  was  not  long  before  written  docu- 
ments (especially  compilations  of  the  inci- 
dents and  sayings  of  the  Master's  life)  appeared 
and  were  being  circulated  within  the  new  com- 
munity is  easily  understandable;  there  is  no 
need  to  try  to  analyze  the  process  here.  And  it 
is  as  easily  understandable  that  in  due  course, 
when  the  young  community  moved  out  into  the 
Greek  world,  when  the  many  currents  of 
thought  in  that  world  began  to  play  upon  it, 
and  when  at  the  same  time  Christian  writings — 
some  of  them  of  secondary  and  doubtful  value — 
began  to  multiply  and  gain  currency,  the  need 
was  felt  to  establish  a  select  body  or  canon  of 
writings  which  should  express  and  preserve 
once  and  for  all,  in  as  pure  a  form  as  possible, 
the  story  of  the  originative  events  of  the  Savior's 
life  and  death  and  resurrection,  and  the  apos- 
tolic testimony  concerning  them.  Such  a  collec- 
tion of  writings  would  inevitably  be  thought  of 
as  the  completion  of  the  Old  Testament  canon 
which  was  already  in  use,  and  would  act  both  as 
a  continuous  source  and  a  corrective  standard 
of  the  church's  teaching  and  life.  But  the  process 
in  its  broad  outline — much  of  its  detail  is  ob- 
scure— is  not  only  easy  to  understand;  it  must 
be  judged  to  be  wholly  right  and  justified.  The 
necessity  for  authoritative  writings  of  some  sort 
is  implicit  in  the  idea  of  a  historic  revelation 
and  redemption;  without  such  writings  the 
historic  events,  along  with  their  crucial  sig- 
nificance for  men,  would  have  been  lost  in  alien 
systems  of  thought,  or  in  embroidered  legends, 
or  in  theosophical  and  mystical  speculations,  if 
indeed  the  knowledge  of  them  had  not  faded 
away  altogether  into  oblivion,  their  memory 
and  influence  gradually  dissipated  and  dissolved 
into  the  unregenerate  life  of  mankind. 

Furthermore,  it  was  right  instinct  which  led 
the  church  in  course  of  time  to  formulate  the 
principle  that  from  among  the  writings  which 
the  general  mind  of  the  community  had  already, 


by  the  unconscious  selection  of  use,  declared  to 
be  valuable  and  worth  preserving,  only  those 
should  be  finally  admitted  to  the  canon  which 
were  apostolic  in  origin,  for  as  we  have  seen, 
the  apostles  do  stand  apart:  they  are  within 
the  circle  of  the  divine  revelation  in  Christ, 
within  the  process  of  the  Incarnation  itself,  and 
any  testimony  of  theirs  shares  in  the  same  dis- 
tinctive status.  The  criterion  of  apostolicity, 
however,  having  been  thus  justifiably  laid  down, 
the  task  of  applying  it  correctly  was  no  easy 
one,  and  the  question  still  remains  whether  in 
point  of  fact  it  was  so  applied.  This  is  a  large 
question,  involving  matters  of  New  Testament 
scholarship  and  research  into  which  it  is  not 
necessary  to  enter.  But  the  judgment  seems 
warranted  that  if  we  do  not  identify  apostolic 
origin  with  direct  apostolic  authorship,  and  if 
we  frankly  allow  for  legitimate  doubt  in  respect 
of  some  of  the  writings  included  in  our  New 
Testament  (e.g.,  II  Peter,  James,  Jude,  Revela- 
tion) ,  the  church  on  the  whole  decided  well. 
Broadly  speaking,  the  New  Testament  is  an 
apostolic  book  and  therefore  shares  in  the 
unique  status  of  the  apostolic  circle  in  relation 
to  the  Incarnation.  And  in  the  New  Testament 
we  do  find  ourselves  confronting  the  historic 
person  of  the  Redeemer  in  his  unique  creative 
and  re-creative  impact  upon  men,  bringing  into 
existence  the  new  covenant  community  and 
sending  and  empowering  it  to  bear  witness  to 
him  throughout  the  world,  in  a  way  in  which 
we  do  not  confront  him  in  other  early  writings 
of  the  church,  even  the  most  beautiful  and  help- 
ful. While  it  is  obviously  impossible  to  main- 
tain that  the  New  Testament  would  not  have 
played  a  part  in  the  life  of  the  Christian  com- 
munity and  in  the  lives  of  its  individual  mem- 
bers if  it  had  included  some  writings  which 
it  does  not  now  include,  or  had  excluded  some 
it  now  contains,  it  is  beyond  question  that  the 
New  Testament,  taken  as  a  whole,  has  been  and 
is  indispensable  to  God's  giving  to  every  new 
generation  the  riches  which  are  in  Christ.  On 
the  principles  here  laid  down,  the  exact  bound- 
aries of  the  New  Testament  canon  may  be  held 
to  be  debatable,  yet  the  distinctiveness  and 
indispensability  of  what  lies  centrally  and  sol- 
idly within  those  boundaries  remain  quite  clear 
and  undeniable.  In  a  similar  way,  although  the 
precise  limits  of  the  sun  when  it  rides  the 
heavens  at  noon  cannot  be  discerned  with  our 
eyes,  there  is  no  doubt  in  what  part  of  the 
heaven  it  is,  or  that  it  gives  light  and  warmth 
and  healing  to  mankind. 

The  absence  of  boundaries  which  we  can 
exactly  define  and  justify  might  perhaps  be 
looked  upon  as  bearing  witness  once  more  to 
the  thoroughgoing  historical  reality  of  the  reve- 
lation which  lies  at  the  center  of  the  Christian 


23 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


faith.  It  bears  witness  once  more  to  the  "in  and 
through"  aspect  of  it.  The  same  witness  is  borne 
by  the  nature  of  the  writings  comprised  within 
the  New  Testament.  None  of  them,  of  course, 
was  written  for  the  purpose  of  finding  a  place 
in  an  authoritative  canon  defined  in  accordance 
with  a  prior  idea  as  to  what  such  a  canon  should 
be  and  should  provide.  They  were  written 
simply  to  meet  the  actual  situations  which  con- 
fronted the  new  faith  as  it  went  out  into  the 
world  in  the  persons  of  those  who  committed 
themselves  to  it.  As  such  they  are  rooted  in  the 
historic  process  itself,  even  as  is  the  Incarnation 
with  which  they  are  integrally  bound  up. 

IV.  The  Nature  of  the  Authority  of  the  Bible 

This  article  has  maintained  that  there  is  only 
one  final  and  absolute  authority  for  the  faith 
and  life  of  the  church,  and  therefore  for  the 
faith  and  life  of  the  individual  members  within 
it:  namely,  the  living  Christ  speaking  through 
the  Holy  Spirit.  It  has  sought  to  show  that  the 
reason  why  the  New  Testament  participates 
indispensably  in  the  authority  of  the  living 
Christ  is  that  the  faith  and  witness  of  the  apos- 
tolic circle  are  part  of  the  original  act  of  divine 
revelation  "into"  and  "in  and  through"  history. 
If  we  desire  to  hear  God's  word  to  us  in  Christ 
and  to  be  kept  from  straying  again  into  the 
darkness  from  which  he  came  to  deliver  us,  we 
must  always  begin  with  the  New  Testament 
and  to  it  we  must  ever  return,  for  that  is  but 
to  begin  with  Christ  and  to  return  to  him.  This 
commits  us  to  the  study  of  the  Old  Testament 
as  well,  for  the  coming  of  Christ,  and  the  bring- 
ing into  existence  of  the  new  covenant  com- 
munity through  him,  are  continuous  with  the 
life  and  history  of  the  old  covenant  community 
and  cannot  be  fully  comprehended  apart  from 
them. 

The  question  to  which  we  now  address  our- 
selves is  how,  in  view  of  all  that  has  been  said, 
the  Scriptures  are  to  be  used  so  that  their  nor- 
mative function  may  be  rightly  exercised. 

A.  The  Authority  of  the  Bible  Not  Different 
from  That  of  Christ. — The  first  thing  that  has 
to  be  said  is  that  the  authority  of  the  Bible, 
being  bound  up  with  the  authority  of  the  living 
Christ  himself,  cannot  be  a  different  sort  of 
authority  from  his.  If,  then,  we  ask  what  sort 
of  authority  Christ  seeks  to  exercise  over  men, 
the  primary  appeal  must  be  to  the  New  Testa- 
ment. This  is  in  accordance  with  the  principles 
already  laid  down.  In  any  case,  to  ascribe  to  the 
biblical  writings,  and  particularly  to  the  New 
Testament,  a  kind  of  authority  which  it  is  not 
even  hinted  that  Christ  ever  claimed  for  him- 
self, or  wanted  to  claim,  would  be  to  put  a  con- 
trariety at  the  very  sources  of  our  faith. 
When  we  examine  the  Gospels,  we  find  that 


at  no  point  did  Christ  attempt  to  exercise  an 
external,  overriding  authority,  to  whose  pro- 
nouncements men  are  required  to  submit  with- 
out investigation  or  criticism,  and  altogether 
apart  from  any  inward  endorsement  and  re- 
sponse within  their  own  minds.  On  the  con- 
trary, we  meet  the  exact  reverse — a  steadfast 
refusal  to  do  so,  and  even  a  deliberate  avoidance 
of  any  relationship  which  might  perhaps  wear 
that  coercive  appearance.  This  characteristic  of 
Christ's  life  and  teaching  is  so  manifest  through- 
out the  Gospels  that  illustration  is  hardly  neces- 
sary. It  is  indeed  so  characteristic  of  him,  and  at 
the  same  time  so  contrary  to  the  natural  in- 
stincts of  men,  that  it  constitutes  one  of  the 
evidences  of  the  truth  of  the  record.  One  may 
refer  only  to  his  refusal  to  provide  a  sign  from 
heaven,  when  asked  so  to  do;  to  his  refusal  to 
answer  the  question  on  what  authority  he  did 
"these  things,"  on  the  ground  that  his  question- 
ers were  not  sincere;  to  such  sayings  as  "He 
that  hath  ears  to  hear,  let  him  hear,"  and  "Why 
do  you  not  judge  for  yourselves  what  is  right?" 
In  John  Oman's  words: 

The  great  demonstration  of  the  Christ  is  just 
that  He  never  sets  Himself,  as  the  absolute  external 
authority  of  the  perfect  truth,  in  opposition  to  the 
imperfect  authority  of  the  finite  and  sinful  spirit 
within,  but  that  He  has  only  one  appeal,  which  is 
to  the  likeness  of  God  and  the  teaching  of  God 
within.  Jesus  speaks  indeed  with  authority.  He  is 
not  as  the  Scribes.  They  had  authorities,  but  no 
authority.  They  had  nothing  to  speak  from  direct, 
and  nothing  to  appeal  to  direct.  Jesus,  on  the  other 
hand,  speaks  from  man  tc  man  the  truth  He  has 
seen  and  to  which  his  hearers  cannot  be  blind, 
unless  they  close  their  eyes.  .  .  .  His  "I  say  unto  you" 
did  not  end  inquiry,  but  begin  it.  Hear  something, 
it  said,  which  the  humble  heart  will  recognise  as 
true,  and  which  the  experience  of  obedience  will 
confirm.  And  surely  herein  is  the  weightiest  proof  of 
the  perfect  truth.  It  does  not  dominate  and  silence 
the  inward  voices,  but  awakes  them  and  makes 
them  its  chief  witness.18 

The  rest  of  the  New  Testament  is  in  harmony 
with  this.  In  the  Acts  the  apostles  are  plainly 
set  before  us  as  men  of  authority  in  the  infant 
church,  yet  their  authority  is  not  of  the  magis- 
terial kind  working  by  dictation  and  coercion, 
but  rather  of  a  kind  which  works  by  persuasion 
through  love,  as  can  be  seen  in  the  proceedings 
of  the  so-called  Council  of  Jerusalem  recorded 
in  Acts  15.  The  same  note  appears  in  the  epistles 
of  Paul,  wherein  the  writer,  though  ready  to 
speak  with  great  force  and  conviction,  neverthe- 
less seeks  to  persuade  his  readers  by  argument 
and  exposition,  appealing  to  them  to  "judge 

18  Vision  and  Authority  (new  and  rev.  ed.;  London: 
Hodder  &  Stoughton,  1928;  New  York:  Harper  &  Bros., 
1929),  pp.  107,  112.  Used  by  permission. 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


for  yourselves  what  I  say"  (I  Cor.  10:15),  and 
commending  the  truth  "to  every  man's  con- 
science in  the  sight  of  God"  (II  Cor.  4:2) . 

It  follows  that  it  is  a  most  grave  disloyalty  to 
Christ,  and  to  the  Scripture  which  he  uses  to 
speak  to  men,  to  turn  the  latter  into  an  over- 
riding authority  of  the  extrinsic,  "yardstick" 
sprt,  whether  by  ascribing  to  it  a  miraculous 
infallibility  whose  statements  none  may  ques- 
tion or  investigate,  or  by  forcing  it — usually  by 
strained  exegesis — to  stand  sponsor  for  a  system 
of  doctrine  the  acceptance  of  which  is  demanded 
as  essential  to  salvation  (as  in  some  types  of 
Protestant  orthodoxy) ,  or  by  using  it  as  a  kind 
of  sortes  Vergilianae  or  means  of  divination  (as 
in  certain  kinds  of  foolish,  intense  piety  we  all 
know) . 

By  the  same  argument,  we  are  brought  to  see 
what  is  the  right  use  of  the  Scripture,  and  what 
is  true  loyalty  to  it.  We  betake  ourselves  to  the 
Scripture  as  part  of  our  betaking  ourselves  to 
the  feet  of  Christ,  in  the  humble  faith  that  in 
him,  and  therefore  in  the  Scripture  through 
which  he  chooses  to  encounter  us,  is  the  final 
truth  for  our  lives;  yet  well  knowing  that  only 
as  this  truth  becomes  veritably  our  truth,  the 
truth  which  compels  our  allegiance  through  our 
own  sincerest  thought  in  relation  to  our  own 
contemporary  world,  is  Christ's  purpose — and 
therefore  the  Scripture's  purpose — fulfilled  in 
us. 

There  are,  however,  two  possible  objections 
to  this  position  which  must  be  faced. 

First,  it  is  sometimes  urged  that  thus  to  under- 
stand the  authority  of  Scripture  is  in  effect  to 
destroy  it  altogether;  for,  it  is  said,  if  we  accept 
in  the  Scripture  only  what  compels  our  own 
assent,  we  are  exposed  to  the  danger  of  an  un- 
checked individualism  by  which  each  takes  or 
leaves  what  his  own  judgment  may  dictate. 
The  answer  to  this  is  to  insist  once  again 
on  the  double  truth  that  Scripture  is  a 
norm  which  is  intrinsic  to  the  life  of  the  whole 
Christian  community,  and  that  its  normative 
function  is  inseparable  from  the  ever-present 
ministry  of  the  living  Christ  through  the 
Holy  Spirit.  It  is  to  the  insight  of  the  in- 
dividual that  Christ  speaks,  but  to  picture 
the  individual  Christian  to  whom  Christ  thus 
speaks  as  an  isolated  and  self-contained  unit 
shut  up  within  the  circle  of  his  own  mental 
processes  is  to  deny  in  effect  the  two  truths  just 
stated.  The  Christian  man  who  is  being  brought 
by  Christ  into  the  new  life  of  reconciliation 
with  God  is  by  that  fact  incorporated  in  the  new 
covenant  community,  and  it  is  only  as  such  that 
he  can  properly  understand  and  use  the  Scrip- 
tures. This  is  itself  a  continuous  and  effective 
check  upon  eccentric  individualism.  But  in  ad- 
dition, the  Christian  man,  along  with  the  com- 


munity of  which  he  is  part,  is  under  the  prom- 
ised guidance  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  To  fear  an 
uncontrolled  and  destructive  individualism  is 
therefore  to  express  an  ultimate  unbelief  in  the 
effectiveness  of  God's  revelation  in  Christ  and 
in  his  power  to  authenticate  that  revelation  to 
any  who  seek  to  open  their  minds  to  it.  (The 
truths  contained  in  this  paragraph  are  implicit 
in  Eph.  4:11-16.) 

In  this  connection  it  is  perhaps  not  without 
significance  that  it  was  during  the  era  when 
Protestantism  generally  assumed  the  literal  in- 
errancy of  Scripture,  and  used  it  in  an  exter- 
nally authoritarian  way,  that  it  broke  up  into 
a  multitude  of  sects;  whereas  it  has  been  in 
more  recent  times,  since  biblical  scholarship 
released  us  from  this  bondage  and  gave  us  the 
true  freedom  of  the  Scripture,  that  the  process 
has  shown  a  marked  tendency  to  be  reversed. 
The  various  churches  have  begun  to  draw  to- 
gether, and  have  increasingly  discovered  a  fun- 
damental unity  of  belief.  Post  hoc,  ergo  propter 
hoc  is  no  doubt  a  precarious  argument,  but 
these  facts  certainly  suggest  that  the  view  that 
an  authoritarian  use  of  Scripture  is  necessary  to 
preserve  us  from  a  divisive  individualism  is  not 
borne  out  by  experience. 

Second,  it  may  be  said  that  thus  to  throw 
the  Christian  believer  back  upon  his  own  in- 
ward sense  of  truth  is  to  fail  to  take  account  of 
his  actual  situation  as  a  weak  and  sinful  man, 
who,  because  of  his  weakness  and  sinfulness, 
needs  an  authoritative  guidance  and  direction 
transcending  his  own  powers.  To  adapt  some 
words  written  elsewhere,  the  cry  for  firm  and 
trustworthy  direction  as  to  what  a  man  should 
do  and  believe  springs  from  the  reality  of  the 
human  situation.  Sin  is  always  with  us,  and  sin 
obscures  God.  Terrible  things  happen,  and  the 
soul  begins  to  doubt  the  truth  of  its  highest 
vision.  Testing  situations  arise  when  a  man  is 
called  to  stake  even  his  life,  and  then  he  begins 
to  waver  and  to  ask  for  some  other  assurance 
than  his  own  inward  conviction  that  the  sacri- 
fice he  is  called  upon  to  make  is  really  worth 
while.  It  is  these  facts  of  man's  spiritual  imma- 
turity and  spasmodic  and  erratic  growth  into 
the  truth,  his  muddled  insights,  his  shadowed 
and  chaotic  life,  his  sinful  failures  and  dis- 
loyalties— everything  in  his  nature  which  clouds 
and  obscures  vision — which  evoke  the  cry  for 
an  authority  which  shall  tell  him  once  and  for 
all  what  he  must  believe,  what  he  must  do,  and 
what  he  may  hope  for.19  If  the  Scriptures  do 
not  answer  this  cry  and  meet  this  need,  of  what 
essential  value  are  they  to  him?  But  how  can 
they  do  so  if  he  is  thrown  back  in  the  end  on 
his  own  feeble  understanding  of  them? 

i»  See  Herbert  H.  Farmer,  The  Servant  of  the  Word 
(New  York:  Charles  Scribner's  Sons,  1942),  pp.  83-84. 


25 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


The  answer  to  this  can  only  be  to  reaffirm 
what  has  already  been  said,  namely,  that  m 
Christ  God  has  in  fact  given  the  truth  in  such 
a  form  that  it  is  able  to  reach  men  even  in  the 
darkness  and  weakness  of  their  sinfulness,  with- 
out,  however,    overriding  their  minds   in   an 
impersonally  authoritarian  way.  In  this  work  of 
Christ,  as  we  have  seen,  the  Scriptures  play  an 
instrumental    and   indispensable    part   in    co- 
operation with  the  Holy  Spirit.  This  is  funda- 
mentally a  matter  of  faith;  but  it  is  also  in 
sufficient  measure  a  matter  of  proved  experi- 
ence. And  this  further  should  be  added:  The 
clamor  for  an   authoritarian   direction  which 
shall  dispel   all   our   doubts  and  perplexities, 
exempt   us  from   ever  making  mistakes,   and 
therefore  from  learning  from  them  humility  and 
patience  and  charity  for  others,  relieve  us  of  any 
necessity  to  make  up  our  own  minds,  or  to 
venture  on  decisions  of  faith  which  take  us  out, 
like  Abraham,  into  the  unknown — such  clamor 
may  itself  be  a  manifestation  of  our  unregener- 
ate  state,  of  that  anxiety  and  unbelief  which  lie 
somewhere  at  the  heart  of  sin.  Indeed,  we  may 
assert  that  it  is  such  a  manifestation,  for  cer- 
tainly there  is  no  evidence,  either  in  Scripture 
or  in  experience,  that  that  sort  of  direction  is 
in  fact  provided  for  us.  Nevertheless,  there  is 
always  a  true  succor  for  our  need,  even  if  it  is 
at  times  not  so  much  the  succor  of  clear  vision 
as  of  faith  renewed,  faith  in  the  overshadowing 
and  pardoning  love  of  God  from  which  nothing 
can  separate  us,  not  even  our  sin,  still  less  our 
perplexities,  immaturities,  and  mistakes. 

B.  Some  Principles  of  Discrimination  and  In- 
terpretation.— When  once  we  have  set  to  one 
side  the  infallibility  of  the  Scriptures,  and  have 
fully  admitted  that  the  Christian  believer  or 
theologian  in  his  use  of  them  must  be  guided 
in  the  last  resort  by  his  own  conviction  of  truth, 
we  admit  in  principle  the  right  to  set  to  one 
side  some  of  the  biblical  content.  But  on  the 
other  hand,  if  the  Bible  is  the  record  of  the 
divine  revelation  in  history,  and  as  such  part  of 
the  revelation,  there  must  be  within  it  that 
from  which  the  Christian  is  not  at  liberty  to 
depart  without  gravely  imperiling,  if  not  de- 
stroying, the  notion  of  an  objective  historical 
revelation  available  in  an  accessible  and  rele- 
vant form.  It  is  the  task  of  theology,  and  that 
which  gives  its  work  vitality  and  value  in  every 
new  generation,  to  keep  these  two  things — the 
critical  discrimination  of  the  content  of  the 
Bible,  and  the  faith  that  there  is  within  that 
content  that  which  is  objectively  and  finally 
given — in  continuous  tension  with  one  an- 
other.20 Though  this  is  a  tension  which  can 
never  be  completely  overcome,  some  broad 

so  Cf  p   18  regarding  the  value  of  the  questions  raised 
by  the  historical  criticism  of  the  Bible. 


principles  may  be  laid  down  in  relation  to  it  on 
the  basis  of  the  general  position  set  forth  in  this 
article. 

(a)  It  is  perhaps  hardly  necessary  to  say  at 
this  time  of  day  that  the  Christian  is  free  to 
reject  beliefs  concerning  the  facts  of  the  naturaj 
order  which  find  expression  in  the  Bible,  but 
which  are  contrary  to  the  established  and  tested 
findings  of  competent  scientific  research.   To 
suppose  that  we  must  accept  every  biblical  be- 
lief about  the  facts  of  nature  would  be  to  ignore 
both   the   historic   character   of   the   Christian 
revelation  and  the  distinctive  content  of  it:  the 
historic  character  of  it  requires,  as  has  been  said 
so  often  already,   that  it  should  be   "in   and 
through'*  human  life,  that  is,  at  the  level  of 
general  knowledge  and  culture  obtaining  at  the 
time  it  is  made;  the  content  of  the  revelation, 
on  the  other  hand,  being  Christ  the  redeemer 
and  reconciler,  is  plainly  unaffected  by  the  ques- 
tion whether  a  man  is,  say,  a  medieval  Christian 
believing,   with  the  biblical   writers,   that   the 
earth  is  flat,  or  a  modern  Christian  believing, 
contrary  to  the  biblical  writers,  that  it  is  round. 
No  doubt  we  have  always  to  be  on  our  guard 
against  accepting  too  easily  and  uncritically  the 
views  of  scientists  on  this  or  that  matter.  It  is 
especially  necessary  to  discriminate  between  ex- 
perimentally established  facts  and  those  theo- 
retical interpretations  of  facts  which  at  best  are 
never   more    than    probable    hypotheses,    and 
which  in  many  cases  fall  outside  the  scope  of 
strict  science  and  become  essentially  philosoph- 
ical in  character.  But  the  obligation  to  be  thus 
cautious  in  the  interest  of  truth  is  a  general  one 
and  rests  upon  all  men,  not  merely  on  the  Chris- 
tian believer,  though  no  doubt  the  Christian 
believer  has  an  added  incentive  to  watchfulness 
because  of  his  concern  that  the  essential  truth 
of  the  biblical  revelation  shall  not  be  set  to  one 
side  by  speculations  falsely  claiming  the  author- 
ity of  science.  However  difficult  it  may  be  in 
some  cases  to  determine  the  boundary  between 
fully  accredited  fact,  probable  hypothesis,  and 
philosophical  speculation,  particularly  when,  as 
is  sometimes  the  case,  they  are  intertwined  with 
one  another,   the  general  principle   that  has 
been    laid    down    is    clear    and    indubitable, 
namely,  that  scriptural  views  on  such  matters  as 
natural  science  is  competent  to  investigate  and 
determine  cannot  be  regarded,  on  a  right  view 
of  the  Scriptures,  as  binding. 

(b)  The  distinction  must  be  made,  whenever 
appropriate,  between  the  content  of  the  biblical 
revelation  and  the  symbols  through  which  it  is 
expressed.  The  latter  may  belong,  like  views  on 
the  facts  of  nature,  to  the  culture  and  thought 
forms  of  the  time,  and  we  are  free,  if  we  will, 
to  set  them  to  one  side  and  find  other  symbols 
and  forms  of  expression.  It  is  another  of  the 


26 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


great  services  o£  the  historical  approach  to  the 
Bible  that  it  often  enables  us  to  recover,  in  a 
way  that  was  not  possible  before,  the  meaning 
which  a  particular  form  of  expression  had  to 
those  who  used  it  and  to  those  to  whom  it  was 
addressed.  This  gives  us  a  firmer  grasp  of  the 
meaning  intended  (guarding  us  against  reading 
into  it  our  own  meanings) ,  and  at  the  same  time 
it  releases  us  from  bondage  to  the  symbol  itself. 
A  notable  example  of  this  is  the  understanding 
we  now  ha\e  of  the  symbolism  of  the  book  of 
Jonah,  an  understanding  through  which  the 
full  force  of  its  teaching  has  been  recovered, 
releasing  us  once  and  for  all  from  the  prepos- 
terous notion  that  acceptance  of  the  fish 
episode  as  historic  fact  is  somehow  part  of  a 
sound  Christian  faith.  Another  illustration  is 
the  understanding  we  now  have  of  the  meta- 
phorical element  in  such  key  words  of  Paul's 
thought  as  "justification"  (a  symbol  from  the 
law  courts) ,  "adoption"  (a  symbol  from  con- 
temporary social  custom) ,  and  "redemption"  (a 
symbol  from  the  institution  of  slavery)  .21 

(c)  That  the  revelation  set  forth  in  the  Bible 
is  a  developing  revelation  is  implicit  in  the  idea 
of  the  New  Testament  as  the  fulfillment  of  the 
Old  and  is  plainly  evident  from  the  content  of 
Scripture  itself.  This  means  that  we  have  not 
merely  the  right  but  the  duty  to  discriminate 
within  the  scripture  records  between  different 
levels  in  the  apprehension  of  God's  nature  and 
purpose  and  to  reject  the  lower  levels  once  and 
for  all  in  favor  of  the  higher.  For  only  by  so 
doing  can  we  once  again  be  loyal  to  the  notion 
of  a  revelation  which  God  has  given  through 
the  medium  of  historical  events,  and  to  the 
faith  that  Christ  himself  is  the  final  source  and 
norm  of  all  truth  in  this  sphere.22 

At  the  same  time  it  must  be  recognized  that 
it  is  not  always  easy  to  make  such  a  discrimina- 
tion between  lower  and  higher  levels.  Difficulty 
arises  for  two  reasons. 

The  first  is  that  though  we  may  rightly  speak 
of  development  in  the  apprehension  of  God 
set  forth  in  the  biblical  history,  nevertheless  the 
development  is  not  a  straight  linear  advance, 
such  as  it  has  sometimes  been  represented  to  be 
by  thinkers  too  much  dominated  by  the  un- 
critical nineteenth-century  notion  of  an  inevi- 
table and  always  mounting  progress  in  human 
affairs.  In  the  biblical  history  we  do  not  see 
depicted  the  "evolution  of  religion/'  but  the 

21  Cf.  Adolf  Deissmann,  Paul,  tr.  William  E.  Wilson 
(2nd  ed.;  New  York:  George  H.  Doran,  1926),  pp  167  ff. 

32  Christ's  "Ye  have  heard  that  it  was  said  by  them  of 
old  time,  .  .  .  but  I  say  unto  you"  is  a  clear  recognition 
of  different  levels  in  the  divine  revelation  to  and  through 
the  covenant  people.  That  history  must  be  a  develop- 
ment process  in  order  to  be  a  true  meeting  place  between 
God  and  men  as  persons,  I  have  sought  to  show  in  my 
book  The  World  and  God,  p.  300. 


wrestling  of  the  living  God  with  real  human 
persons,  who  have  wills  of  their  own  and  are 
liable  to  all  the  perversities  of  mind  and  heart 
which  characterize  human  persons.  The  earlier 
is  therefore  not  necessarily  on  a  lower  level  than 
the  later:  there  is  retrogression  as  well  as  pro- 
gression; and  the  task  of  discrimination  can 
ne\er  be  simply  a  matter  of  establishing,  if  we 
can,  a  chronological  sequence.  Something  of 
direct  religious  insight  and  evaluation  has  also 
to  come  into  play,  enabling  us  to  differentiate 
between  what  is  essentially  sound  and  of  per- 
manent value,  even  though  relatively  undevel- 
oped, and  what  is  essentially  unsound,  even 
though  otherwise  on  a  much  higher  cultural 
level.  The  Bible  itself  justifies  us  in  making 
such  a  differentiation  and  helps  us  to  make  it, 
for  it  is  an  essential  part  of  the  witness  of  the 
prophetic  minds,  whose  message  it  preserves,  to 
recall  their  contemporaries  from  their  perpetual 
wanderings  into  error  and  darkness  to,  as  it 
were,  the  highway  of  God's  unfolding  disclosure 
of  himself  to  them  through  the  working  out  of 
his  purpose  in  their  history.  It  is  indeed  part  of 
the  value  of  the  Bible  to  us  that  it  thus  mediates 
the  purpose  of  God  to  us  through  a  record 
of  men's  continual  disloyalties  to  and  depar- 
tures from  it,  for  the  same  tendencies  to  stray 
into  error  are  always  present  within  the  human 
soul.  And  it  is  also  part  of  its  value  that  though 
what  we  have  called  the  highway  of  God's  reve- 
lation of  truth  is  indicated,  there  is  always  need 
for  our  own  insight  and  discrimination  to  be 
brought  into  play  if  we  are  to  discern  it  and 
find  in  it  a  directive  for  our  own  life. 

The  second  reason  has  to  do  with  the  am- 
biguity in  the  meaning  of  the  term  "fulfill- 
ment," to  which  reference  was  made  earlier  (see 
p.  10) .  When  we  say  that  the  New  Testament 
fulfills  the  Old  we  may  mean  that  it  provides 
answers  to  certain  fundamental  religious  ques- 
tions which  the  Old  Testament  leaves  unan- 
swered or  answers  unsatisfactorily.  Clearly  such 
fulfillment  supersedes  the  Old  Testament  so  far 
as  the  answers  to  these  questions  are  concerned, 
though  the  Old  Testament  record  in  relation  to 
such  questions  may  still  have  great  value  in 
making  clear  what  they  are  and  how  they  arise, 
and  in  warning  against  those  partial  or 
false  solutions  which  the  New  Testament  once 
and  for  all  sets  to  one  side.  C.  H.  Dodd,  in  a 
chapter  headed  "The  New  Testament  as  the 
Fulfillment  of  the  Old,"  lists  five  such  funda- 
mental questions.28 

On  the  other  hand,  we  may  think  of  the  New 
Testament  as  fulfilling  the  Old  in  such  a  way 
that  what  is  fulfilled  is  not  completely  set  to 
one  side,  but,  on  the  contrary,  is  validated  and 

23  The  Authority  of  the  Bible  (New  York:  Harper  & 
Bros.,  1929),  pp.  205-23. 


27 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


its  true  significance  and  value  preserved  and 
made  plain.  Moreover,  that  which  is  thus  ful- 
filled may  in  a  measure  reciprocally  illumine 
and  illustrate  that  which  fulfills  it.  An  example 
will  help  to  make  this  clear.  In  Hosea's  loyal 
and  tender  relationship  with  his  erring  wife, 
and  in  the  new  discernment  of  God's  nature 
and  purpose  which  came  to  him  through  that 
tragic  experience,  we  can  see,  as  we  look  back 
on  it  from  the  standpoint  of  the  New  Testament 
revelation,  both  a  true  likeness  to  Christ  and 
at  least  a  partial  discernment  of  the  truth  which 
was  fully  disclosed  in  him.  And  because  of  this 
continuity  of  truth  between  the  two,  because 
the  incomplete  and  the  partial,  so  far  from 
being  abrogated,  is  taken  up  and  reaffirmed 
in  that  which  fulfills  it,  we  can  even  use  the 
story  of  Hosea  (as  many  a  preacher  must  have 
done)  to  illustrate,  and  by  illustrating  to  illu- 
mine, the  truth  which  is  in  Christ.  In  a  similar 
way,  the  faith  of  Abraham,  the  sympathetic  and 
pitiful  imagination  of  David,  the  deep  concern 
of  the  Mosaic  law  for  the  weak  and  needy,  the 
penitence  of  the  psalmist,  the  "servant  passages" 
of  Isaiah,  and  much  else  in  the  Old  Testament, 
can  be  understood  in  a  new  way  in  the  light  of 
Christ;  and  they  may  even  help  us  to  appre- 
hend and  appropriate  that  light  more  fully. 

It  is  along  these  lines  that  we  can  find  room 
in  our  use  of  the  Old  Testament  for  something 
that  might  be  called  a  "typology,"  but  it  is 
obviously  a  very  different  typology  from  that 
which  can  be  amply  illustrated  from  the  history 
of  scriptural  interpretation — namely,  that  which 
fancifully  and  ingeniously  reads  into  almost 
anything  in  the  Old  Testament  oblique  Chris- 
tian references  and  meanings,  without  any  re- 
gard to  what  a  sound  exegesis  would  show  to  be 
the  real  meaning  and  intention  of  the  text.  The 
hold  which  typological  and  allegorical  methods 
of  interpretation  (seldom  clearly  distinguished 
from  one  another)  have  had  on  the  minds  of 
students  of  Scripture  all  down  the  history  of 
the  church  can  be  sympathetically  regarded  as 
an  endeavor  to  assert  the  continuity  of  the  Old 
and  New  Testaments  and  the  divine  unity  of 
Scripture.  But  it  too  often  rested  on  what  we 
now  see  to  be  (i)  an  inevitably  inadequate 
exegetical  equipment;  (ii)  a  defective  sense  of 
the  meaning  of  a  historical  revelation,  which 
made  it  seem  necessary  to  find  an  equal  place 
in  the  divine  revelation  for  everything  in  the 
Old  Testament  (even  for  the  voluptuous  love 
lyric  called  the  Song  of  Songs — usually  inter- 
preted as  an  allegory  of  the  relation  of  Christ 
to  the  church) ;  and  (iii)  a  failure  to  realize 
that  if  there  is  continuity  between  the  Old  and 
New  Testaments,  there  is  also  a  radical  discon- 
tinuity between  them. 

(d)    It  is  important  in   discriminating  the 

28 


biblical  material  to  be  sure  that  we  are  not 
doing  so  on  the  basis  of  theological  or  philo- 
sophical presuppositions  and  principles  which 
have  been  adopted  on  grounds  extraneous  to 
the  biblical  revelation,  which  have  never  been 
thoroughly  scrutinized  in  the  light  of  that 
revelation,  and  which  may  in  fact  be  contrary 
to  it.  Thus — to  give  some  examples — whatever 
we  may  make  of  the  difficult  question  of  the 
miracle  stories  in  the  Bible,  we  must  seek  to  be 
sure  that  the  position  we  adopt  in  regard  to  it 
is  not  based  on  a  general  philosophical  position 
which  not  only  starts  elsewhere  than  in  the 
fundamental  biblical  view  of  God  as  personally 
active  in  the  world  he  has  made,  but  must  also, 
if  logically  wrought  out,  gravely  impugn  that 
view.  Or  again,  whatever  we  may  make  of  the 
eschatological  elements  in  the  New  Testament, 
we  must  seek  to  be  sure  that  we  are  not  bringing 
to  the  interpretation  of  them  a  view  of  history 
which  owes  much  more  to  current  notions  of 
evolution  and  progress  than  to  serious  wrestling 
with  the  distinctively  biblical  view  of  the  rela- 
tion of  time  and  eternity.  Or  again,  we  must 
take  care  that  the  very  somber  view  which  is 
taken  throughout  the  Bible  of  man's  status  as  a 
sinner  before  God  is  not  unconsciously  toned 
down  and  reinterpreted,  if  not  almost  com- 
pletely explained  away,  on  the  basis  of  an 
optimistic,  semipantheistic  humanism  which,  if 
it  is  true,  really  takes  the  heart  out  of  the  dis- 
tinctive biblical  message  of  man's  redemption. 

The  problem  of  rightly  relating  to  one  an- 
other the  special  interests  and  problems  of 
philosophy  and  a  theology  which  is  seeking  to 
be  true  to  the  Bible  is  a  difficult  one,  and  affords 
another  of  those  tensions  which  keep  theological 
work  alive.  It  is  not  possible  to  avoid  the  use 
of  philosophical  categories  (such  as  time,  eter- 
nity, cause,  purpose,  personality)  in  building 
up  a  systematic  theology;  moreover,  the  general 
cosmological  framework  into  which  the  Chris- 
tian theologian,  and  even  preacher,  inevitably 
seeks  to  fit  his  Christian  convictions  is  bound  to 
contain  elements  of  which  the  Bible  knows 
nothing,  on  which  it  sheds  little  direct  light, 
and  to  which  in  some  measure  a  philosophical 
evaluation  must  be  applied  if  they  are  to  be 
rightly  assessed  (as  the  facts  of  biological  evolu- 
tion) .  Nevertheless,  the  general  principle,  how- 
ever difficult  to  apply,  remains  clear,  namely, 
that  we  must  be  continually  interrogating  our- 
selves to  see  whether  we  are  allowing  the  Bible 
in  its  basic  affirmations  to  be  determinative  of 
our  thinking,  or  whether  we  are  making  some 
other  view  the  criterion  to  which  (perhaps 
unconsciously)  we  compel  all  else,  including 
the  Bible  itself,  to  submit.  The  point  may  be 
put  another  way  by  saying  that  the  principles 
by  which  we  discriminate  the  biblical  material 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


must  be  supplied  by  the  Bible  itself,  or  at  least 
be  in  fundamental  harmony  with  it,  and  not  be 
taken  over  uncritically  from  elsewhere.2* 

(e)  A  special  word  may  perhaps  be  said  con- 
cerning the  application  to  the  Gospels  and  to 
the  New  Testament  epistles  of  the  principles 
which  we  have  discussed.  The  view  herein  set 
forth  certainly  implies  that  we  are  not  under 
obligation  to  accept  without  question  every 
belief  and  teaching  which  is  ascribed  to  Christ, 
or  finds  place  in  the  epistles,  as  though  a  quota- 
tion from  these  were  sufficient  to  settle  every 
problem,  or  at  least  to  supply  the  quite  indis- 
putable premise  of  every  argument  Many, 
however,  will  feel  a  particular  shrinking  from 
claiming  the  right  to  exercise  such  a  discrimina- 
tory judgment  on  the  New  Testament;  it  seems 
like  tampering  with  the  very  springs  of  Chris- 
tian truth.  This  feeling  must  certainly  be 
honored  to  the  extent  of  insisting  most  strongly 
that  the  work  of  discrimination  within  the  New 
Testament  requires  always  the  greatest  care  and 
humility  of  spirit,  and  a  constant  readiness  to 
review  one's  judgment,  lest  aught  of  the  new 
and  challenging  truth  be  lost.  But  if  the  feeling 
is  allowed  to  issue  in  a  total  prohibition  against 
setting  to  one  side  anything  in  the  New  Testa- 
ment, we  are  in  effect  back  in  that  wrong  view 
of  the  authority  of  Scripture  which  in  fact  in- 
volves a  far  greater  disloyalty  to  it  than  the 
possible  errors  against  which  such  a  view  is 
alleged  to  give  protection. 

The  duty  and  the  right  to  discriminate  (al- 
ways, it  may  perhaps  be  well  to  say  again,  from 
within  the  fellowship  of  the  church  and  under 
the  promised  guidance  of  the  Holy  Spirit)  are 
perhaps  not  so  difficult  to  affirm  in  relation  to 
the  epistles  as  in  relation  to  the  Gospels,  for 
the  writers  of  the  epistles,  great  as  they  were  and 
commandingly  unique  as  is  their  function  in 
the  economy  of  God's  revelation  in  Christ,  were 
in  their  degree  sinful  and  fallible  men.  They 
were  seeking  to  appropriate  and  express,  in 
relation  to  their  own  historical  situations  and 
under  a  divine  guidance  which  certainly  did  not 
confer  either  infallibility  or  sinless  perfection, 
the  riches  given  in  Christ;  and  it  is  obvious  that 
what  they  say  does  not  provide  us  with  a  per- 
fectly harmonious  system  of  thought  and  belief, 
though  there  is,  of  course,  a  deep  underlying 
unity.  In  the  Gospels,  however,  we  believe  our- 
selves to  encounter  the  perfect  One,  the  incar- 
nate Son  of  God.  Therefore,  if  we  feel  led  to 
question  beliefs  and  teachings  ascribed  to  him, 
it  can  never  be  in  such  a  way  as  even  distantly 
to  hint  or  imply  that  we  know  better  than  he 
concerning  the  deep  things  of  God.  It  can  only 

a*  See  Herbert  H.  Fanner,  "Some  Reflections  on  Pro- 
fessor Wieman's  New  Book/'  Journal  of  Religion,  XXVII 
(1947),  114. 


be  for  one  or  both  of  two  reasons:  (i)  because 
we  see  that  the  belief  in  question  is  not  inte- 
grally part  of  the  saving  truth  Christ  came  to 
disclose,  but  is  rather  part  of  the  mental  furni- 
ture of  any  first-century  Jew,  and  so  enters 
indispensably  into  his  historic  humanity,  or 
(ii)  because  we  have  good  reason  to  think  that 
Christ's  teaching  has  been  inadequately  or  in- 
accurately reported.  An  example  of  (i)  might 
be  found  in  the  belief  held  in  demons  and 
demon  possession,  which  Christ  apparently 
shared.  Some  Christians  today  reject  this  belief, 
and  whether  we  agree  with  them  in  this  or  not, 
it  must  be  conceded  that  they  are  within  their 
rights  so  to  do,  provided  only  that  they  are 
prepared  to  maintain  the  position  that  belief  in 
demon  possession  is  not  integral  to  "saving 
truth,"  and  that  the  holding  of  this  belief  was 
part  of  Christ's  historic  humanity  as  a  first- 
century  Jew.  An  example  of  (ii)  might  be 
found  in  some  aspects  of  Christ's  reported 
eschatological  teaching.  There  is  evidence  to 
suggest  that  contemporary  apocalyptic  ideas  and 
schemes  of  thought  have  entered  more  or  less 
distortingly  into  the  reports  given  us  in  the 
Gospels.  The  so-called  Little  Apocalypse  of 
Mark  13,  for  example,  has  a  symmetry  which 
makes  it  more  than  a  little  dubious  whether  it 
can  be  accepted  as  it  stands  and  in  its  entirety 
as  an  authentic  utterance  of  Christ. 

C.  The  Bible  as  the  Word  of  God. — It  may 
well  be  asked,  in  view  of  all  that  has  been  said, 
in  what  sense,  if  any,  we  can  properly  speak  of 
the  Bible  as  the  Word  of  God.  When  the  Scrip- 
tures were  regarded  as  literally  inerrant,  the 
writers  being  passive  instruments  in  God's 
hands,  there  was  a  clear  and  definite  sense  in 
which  the  Scriptures  could  be  called  the  Word 
of  God.  God  wrote  the  Scriptures,  and  they 
were  therefore  his  written  Word.  But  when 
this  view  is  rejected,  and  we  regard  it  as  both  a 
right  and  a  duty  to  exercise  a  discriminatory 
judgment  on  the  Scriptures,  the  time-honored 
phrase,  the  Word  of  God,  if  we  continue  to  use 
it,  obviously  calls  for  fresh  exposition  and  defi- 
nition. The  need  becomes  the  more  evident 
when  inquiry  reveals  that  both  in  the  Bible 
itself  and  in  theological  usage  the  phrase,  the 
Word  of  God,  has  had  a  number  of  variant 
though  not  unrelated  meanings. 

In  the  New  Testament  the  concept  of  the 
"word"  (used  simpliciter,  or  in  variant  phrases 
such  as  "Word  of  God"  or  "word  of  the  Cross" 
or  "word  of  the  Gospel,"  etc.)  seems  to  bear  the 
following  main  meanings:  (a)  the  content  of 
the  gospel  message,  as  disclosed  to  mankind  by 
God  through  Christ,  and  as  witnessed  to  in  the 
preaching  of  the  apostles — see  Mark  4:14-20; 
Acts  16:6;  Rev.  1:2;  Acts  15:7;  I  Cor.  1:18;  Phil. 
2:16;  (b)  the  total  truth  for  life,  conduct,  and 


29 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


belief,  which  is  implicit  in  the  gospel  proclama- 
tion, and  which  must  be  accepted  if  the  full 
riches  of  the  gospel  are  to  be  enjoyed — see  Col. 
1:5;  Tit.  1:9;  I  Pet.  2'8;  3:1;  Jas.  1:22;  II  Cor. 
4:2;  (c)  God's  active  power  as  manifested  in  the 
creation  and  preservation  of  the  world — see  II 
Pet  3:5;  Heb.  1:3;  (d)  God's  activity  in  salva- 
tion, both  within  the  hearts  and  minds  of  be- 
lievers and  in  the  church — see  Heb.  4:12;  6:5; 
Jas.  1:18;  Eph.  5:26;  Col.  3:16;  and  finally  (<?)  — 
the  distinctively  Johannine  thought— the  ex- 
pression of  God's  eternal  being  in  an  eternally 
outgoing  activity  of  creative  reason,  which 
creates  the  world,  gives  life  and  understanding 
to  men,  and  finally  becomes  incarnate  in  Jesus 
Christ— see  John  1:1-4,  14;  I  John  1:1;  Rev. 
19:13. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  see  what  is  the  dominant 
and  unifying  thought  of  all  these  usages:  the 
Word  of  God  signifies  the  revealing  activity  of 
the  living  and  personal  God  in  creation  and 
toward  men,  particularly  as  this  is  manifest  and 
operative  in  the  gospel — "gospel"  being  here 
used  as  an  all-inclusive  term  to  signify  (a)  the 
content  of  the  gospel,  namely,  that  God  himself 
came  in  a  supreme,  saving  act  of  self-giving  and 
self-disclosure  in  Christ,  (b)  the  declaration  of 
the  gospel  through  the  preaching  and  teaching 
of  its  primary  witnesses,  and  (c)  the  making  of 
the  gospel  effective  in  the  hearts  and  lives  of 
those  who  believe.  To  this  wealth  of  meaning — 
all  of  it  centering  in  the  thought  of  the  reveal- 
ing activity  of  God  toward  men — the  symbol  of 
the  Word  is  singularly  appropriate;  it  would  be 
difficult  to  think  of  one  more  compendiously 
adequate.  For  the  spoken  word  springs  from,  is 
sustained  by,  and  directly  expresses  the  person- 
ality of  the  speaker  in  his  purposeful  activity, 
as  nothing  else  does — his  reasoned  thought,  his 
desire  to  unveil  his  mind,  his  intention  to  chal- 
lenge and  draw  a  response  from  the  mind  and 
will  of  another  person.  And  speech  can  be  most 
deeply  penetrative  in  its  effects  on  those  who 
hear  it.  No  doubt  the  symbol  of  the  Word  be- 
comes somewhat  strained  when  it  is  applied,  as 
in  the  Johannine  literature,  to  the  divine  Re- 
deemer himself,  for  "word"  normally  signifies 
the  expression  and  act  of  personality,  not  the 
personality  itself.  The  strain  is  evidenced  by 
the  fact  that  this  usage  stands  rather  apart  in 
the  New  Testament,  and  by  the  fact  that  many 
people  find  the  conception  of  Christ  as  "the 
Word  of  God"  (particularly  as  expounded  in 
John  1)  somewhat  mystifying.  But  when  once 
the  meaning  is  grasped,  the  sense  of  strain  in 
calling  Christ  himself  the  Word  is  lost  in  the 
appropriateness  of  the  symbol  along  the  lines 
just  indicated.  Moreover,  to  call  Christ  himself 
the  Word  of  God  has  this  advantage:  that  it 
emphasizes  the  point  already  insisted  on  so 


much,  that  the  supreme  source  and  norm  of 
Christian  truth  are  not  words  written  down  and 
preserved  between  the  covers  of  a  book  (impor- 
tant as  these  are,  for  the  reasons  which  have 
been  given) ,  but  Christ  who  is  the  living  Word. 

It  was  much  later  in  the  history  of  Christian 
thought  that  the  tendency  arose  to  equate  the 
Scriptures  with  the  Word  of  God.  The  tendency 
was  especially  manifest  in  Protestant  circles 
after  the  Reformation,  though  it  should  be 
noted  that  in  these  circles  the  phrase  the  "Word 
of  God"  was  also  used  in  the  New  Testament 
sense  indicated  above,  as  a  study  of  the  various 
confessions  shows.  It  is  noteworthy  that  Calvin 
never  identified  Scripture  with  the  Word  of 
God,  It  is  broadly  true  to  say  that  in  the  Protes- 
tant tradition  the  New  Testament  usage  of  the 
phrase  is  preserved  alongside  the  increasingly 
dominant  usage  of  it  to  indicate  the  Scriptures 
as  such,  the  two  usages  not  being  very  clearly 
related  to  one  another. 

It  follows  from  this  brief  inquiry  that  it 
would  not  be  in  the  least  contrary  to  Scripture 
itself  but  rather  in  harmony  with  it,  nor  would 
it  be  contrary  to  anything  essential  in  the  Chris- 
tian faith,  if  we  ceased  altogether  to  speak  of 
the  Scriptures  as  the  Word  of  God,  and  if  we 
reserved  the  phrase,  as  the  New  Testament  does, 
for  God's  great  saving  act  of  revelation  in  Christ 
and  for  the  gospel  message  proclaiming  it  to 
mankind. 

However,  the  course  of  thought  which  has 
been  pursued  in  this  article  may  perhaps  be 
taken  to  afford  sufficient  ground  for  adhering 
to  what  has  become  the  Protestant  tradition  of 
speaking  of  the  Bible  as  the  Word  of  God, 
though  it  at  the  same  time  defines  the  sense  in 
which  we  may  do  so.  For  we  have  maintained 
that  the  Scriptures  do  enter  indispensably  into 
that  revealing  and  saving  activity  of  God  in  the 
incarnate  Redeemer  and  in  the  gospel  message 
concerning  him,  which  is  what  the  symbol  of 
the  Word  of  God  properly  denotes.  God,  as  it 
were,  continually  takes  the  written  word  of  the 
Bible  up  into  his  own  living  Word,  so  that  it 
becomes  vitally  one,  though  not  identical,  with 
it.  To  speak  of  the  Scriptures  as  the  Word  of 
God,  for  all  the  misrepresentation  and  misuse 
to  which  such  a  usage  is  admittedly  exposed, 
does  at  least  forbid  us  to  minimize  or  overlook 
this  vital  union  and  its  necessity.  Nor,  it  must 
be  emphasized  again,  is  this  indispensable 
union  of  the  Scriptures  with  the  saving  Word 
of  God  in  Christ  and  in  the  gospel  message  im- 
paired in  the  least  by  the  fact  that  we  must  use 
our  own  best  knowledge  and  judgment  to  in- 
terpret them.  On  the  contrary,  our  freedom  to 
do  this  is  used  by  God,  in  his  patience  and  wis- 
dom, to  turn  the  littera  scripta  into  a  living 


30 


THE  BIBLE:  ITS  SIGNIFICANCE  AND  AUTHORITY 


encounter  with  us  as  persons,  whom  he  must 
save  as  persons,  if  we  are  to  be  saved  at  all. 

D.  The  Bible  as  the  Authoritative  Basis  of 
Preaching. — The  proclamation  of  the  gospel 
through  preaching  has  from  the  beginning  been 
recognized  to  be  an  indispensable  factor  in 
God's  saving  activity  toward  men  in  Christ. 
This  necessity  of  preaching  arises  primarily  out 
of  the  nature  of  the  gospel  itself  as  a  message 
concerning  God's  coming  into  the  world  in  a 
historic  event,  a  historic  Incarnation.  An  event 
can  become  known  only  by  being  borne  witness 
to,  by  being  proclaimed,  by  the  story  being  told. 
Nobody  can  come  to  the  knowledge  of  an  event 
by  his  own  reflection,  by  excogitation.  And  if 
the  significance  of  the  event  is  that  in  it  God 
comes  to  encounter  men  as  persons  in  the  chal- 
lenge and  the  succor  of  redeeming  love,  then 
another  reason  for  preaching  can  be  seen: 
namely,  that  preaching  is  in  a  superlative  degree 
the  deliberate  challenge  of  one  person  to  an- 
other, the  encounter  of  one  person  with  an- 
other. God  takes  the  human  personal  encounter 
involved  in  bearing  witness  to  the  Event  up 
into  his  own  personal  encounter  with  men 
through  the  Event.  Here  also  he  makes  the 
human  word  vitally  one,  though  not  identical, 
with  the  divine  Word.  Once  again  the  appropri- 
ateness of  the  symbol  "Word"  to  indicate  the 
total  divine  activity  in  Christ  toward  men  be- 
comes apparent.25 

It  follows  from  this  that  preaching  in  its 
essential  idea  is  not  necessarily  required  to  be 
based  upon  scriptural  texts  or  passages.  All  that 
is  required  is  that  it  should  be,  in  whatever 
form  is  appropriate  to  the  occasion,  a  bearing 
witness  to,  a  setting  forth  of,  the  Word  of  the 
gospel,  the  Word  which  is  Christ.  However,  this 
requirement,  when  taken  along  with  all  that  has 
been  said  concerning  the  part  played  by  Scrip- 
ture in  mediating  the  Word  of  God,  does  make 
the  deliberate  yoking  of  the  preacher's  message 
to  the  content  of  the  Scripture  indispensable  to 
the  effective  prosecution  of  his  task,  whether  or 
not  in  fact  he  starts  from,  or  indeed  makes  any 
explicit  reference  to,  a  scripture  text  or  passage. 
The  long  tradition  of  the  church  that  preaching 
shall  as  a  rule  be  "from  the  Scriptures"  is  there- 
fore justified.  But,  of  course,  by  the  same  argu- 
ment it  must  be  genuinely  "from  the  Scrip- 
tures." The  danger  earlier  referred  to  is  always 
present,  that  even  when  the  preacher  does 
"take  a  text,"  he  fails  really  to  submit  his  mind 
to  it,  but  rather  reads  into  it  contemporary  con- 

«5For  a  further  exposition  of  this  see  Farmer,  The 
Servant  of  the  Word. 


ceptions  and  beliefs,  using  the  scripture  words 
merely  as  a  perch  on  which  his  own  ideas,  like 
a  lot  of  twittering  birds,  may  alight  and  preen 
themselves. 

The  basing  of  preaching  on  Scripture  imparts 
to  it  a  weight  and  authority  which  the  preacher 
in  himself  could  not  hope  to  command.  This 
authority,  it  must  be  insisted  once  more,  is  not 
of  the  external,  overriding  kind;  always  it  makes 
itself  felt  through  the  testimonium  spiritus 
sancti  internum  working  through  the  quickened 
insight  of  the  hearer.  But  it  is  nevertheless  a 
real  authority.  It  derives  from  the  inherent  and 
proved  power  of  the  Scriptures  to  disturb  the 
heart  of  a  man  with  a  renewed  sense  of  sinful- 
ness  and  need,  to  challenge  him  with  a  sense  of 
the  seriousness  of  the  issues  which  are  at  stake 
in  human  existence,  to  solemnize  him  with  a 
sense  of  the  living  God  coming  to  him  in  the 
majestic  person  of  the  Redeemer.  It  derives  too 
from  the  fact  that  Scripture  comes  to  the  hearer 
as  an  inseparable  part  of  the  total  life  and  wit- 
ness of  the  Christian  church,  and  so  carries  with 
it  the  authority  of  the  church's  agelong  experi- 
ence and  testimony.  By  taking  his  stand  upon 
the  Bible  and  preaching  thence,  the  preacher 
utters  the  prayer,  and  expresses  the  faith,  that 
the  thin,  shallow  trickle  of  his  own  words  will 
be  taken  up  into  the  living  Word  of  him,  con- 
cerning whom  it  was  said  that  his  voice  was  "as 
the  sound  of  many  waters." 

V.  Selected  Bibliography 

BRUNNER,  EMIL.  Revelation  and  Reason,  tr.  Olive 

Wyon.  Philadelphia:  Westminster  Press,  1946. 
CUNLIFFE-JONES,    HUBERT.    The    Authority    of    the 

Biblical  Revelation.  London:  James  Clarke  &  Co., 

1945. 
DODD,  C.  H.  The  Authority  of  the  Bible.  New  York: 

Harper  &  Bros.,  1929. 
.  The  Bible  Today.  New  York:  The  Macmil- 

lan  Co.,  1947. 
DUGMORE,  C.  W.,  ed.   The  Interpretation   of  the 

Bible.  London:  Society  for  Promoting  Christian 

Knowledge,  1944. 
LILLEY,  A.  L,  Religion  and  Revelation.  New  York: 

The  Macrnillan  Co.,  1932. 

PHYTHIAN-ADAMS,  W.  J.  The  People  and  the  Pres- 
ence. London:  Oxford  University  Press,  1942. 
RICHARDSON,    ALAN.    Christian    Apologetics.    New 

York:  Harper  &  Bros.,  1947. 
ROBINSON,  H.  WHEELER.  Redemption  and  Revelation 

in  the  Actuality  of  History.  New  York:  Harper 

and  Bros.,  1942. 
.   Inspiration   and   Revelation    in    the    Old 

Testament.  Oxford:  Clarendon  Press,  1946. 
ROWLEY,  H.  H.  The  Relevance  of  the  Bible.  New 

York:  The  Macrnillan  Co.,  1944. 


31 


THE  CANON 
OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 

by  ARTHUR  JEFFERY 


I.  The  Christian  Inheritance  of  the  Hebrew  Scrip- 
ture 
II.  Growth  of  the  Hebrew  Wiiiings 

III.  The  Word  Canon 

IV.  The  Various  Witnesses  of  the  Canon 

A.  Hebrew  Scriptures 

B.  The  Hellenistic  Bible 

C.  The  Samaritan  Pentateuch 

D.  Ben  Sirach   (ca.  180  B.C.) 

E.  Simeon  ben  Shetach   (ca.  75  B.C) 

F.  The  Books  of  Maccabees   (ca.  90-50  B.C.) 

G.  Philo  Judaeus  (ca.  A.D.  40) 

H.  The  New  Testament   (ca.  A.D.  50-150) 
J.  Josephus  (ca.  A.D.  100) 
K.  II  Esdras  (IV  Ezra,  ca  AD.  90-120) 
L.  The  Rabbinical  Tradition 

Readers  of  the  Bible  are  usually  inclined  to 
take  for  granted  the  contents  of  the  Book  as  it 
comes  to  them  in  its  printed  form,  without 
thinking  to  ask  why  it  contains  just  so  many 
books,  arranged  in  what  seems  to  be  an  invari- 
able order.  Some  readers  are  aware  that  in  cer- 
tain churches  lessons  are  at  times  read  from  the 
Apocrypha,  which,  however,  are  not  contained 
in  most  of  the  printed  editions  they  see,  but 
why  this  should  be  they  do  not  know.  The 
answer  is  that  the  various  churches  recognize  a 
canon  of  Scripture  which  decides  for  them  what 
books  are  to  be  included  or  excluded  and  in 
what  order  they  are  to  be  arranged. 

I.  The  Christian  Inheritance  of  the  Hebrew 
Scripture 

Part  of  the  inheritance  of  Christianity  from 
Judaism  was  a  scripture.  Jesus  in  his  preaching 
constantly  referred  to  this  scripture,  and  the 
disciples  followed  him  in  this  practice.  They 
accepted  as  a  religious  fact  which  directly  con- 
cerned them  the  existence  among  the  Jews  of  a 
body  of  writings  received  as  sacred  and  authori- 
tative. 

This  body  of  writings  did  not  profess  to  in- 
clude all  the  religious  books  that  had  appeared 
during  the  history  of  the  Jewish  people.  It  did 
not  include  all  the  religious  documents  which 
were  in  circulation  among  the  Jews  at  that 


M.  The  Apostolic  Fathers 

N.  Melito  of  Sardis  (ca,  170) 

O.  Origen  (185-254) 

P.  Athanasms   (365) 

Q.  Jerome   (329-420) 

R.  The  Eastern  Churches 

1.  The  Syriac-Speaking  Church 

2.  The  Armenian  Church 

3.  The  Abyssinian  Church 

4.  The  Coptic  Church 
V.  Conclusion 

A.  Preparation  for  Canonization 

B.  Official  Canonization 

C.  Resistance  to  Official  Canonization 
VI.  Selected  Bibliography 


period.  It  was  a  body  of  writings  which  had 
been  brought  together  by  a  process  of  selection, 
given  an  authority  not  possessed  by  their  other 
religious  literature,  and  invested  with  a  sanctity 
which  set  it  apart  as  in  some  particular  way 
connected  with  the  official  religious  life  of  the 
people. 

In  this  there  was  nothing  unique.  We  find 
the  same  factors  at  work  among  other  peoples 
producing  the  sacred  books  of  other  religions. 
Save  in  such  cases  as  the  Manichaean  scriptures 
or  the  Qur*anf  which  were  produced  in  con- 
scious imitation  of  an  earlier  canonical  scrip- 
ture, we  find  that  the  "scripture"  of  a  religion 
consists  of  a  body  of  writings  of  different  age 
and  authorship,  formed  by  a  gradual  process  of 
selection,  and  little  by  little  acquiring  sanctity 
and  authority.  The  writings  assembled  in  such 
sacred  books  are  of  various  kinds,  some  histor- 
ical, some  didactic,  some  hortatory,  some  per- 
haps magical,  but  they  gain  their  authority 
because  the  community  feels  that  in  them  is 
enshrined  something  that  is  of  vital  significance 
for  the  practice  of  the  religion  whose  sacred 
books  they  are. 

When  New  Testament  writers  use  such 
phrases  as  iv  ra?q  ypa<j>a?c,,  or  ypaq>ai  fiyiai,  or 
(TCC)  tepoc  ypd^jjocra,  and  Jewish  writers  such  as 
Josephus,  Philo,  and  the  author  of  I  Maccabees, 
speak  of  ai  tepai  ptpXoi,  or  TOC  pi(3Xia  TCC  <5cyia, 


32 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


or  TOC  tep&  ypocnnccTcc,  they  are  testifying  to  the 
existence  of  such  a  collection  among  the  Jews. 
The  same  idea  of  a  well-recognized  collection 
is  implicit  in  the  Talmudic  expression  miqra*, 
"reading,"  used  of  writings  publicly  read  in  the 
synagogue  services.  The  Christians  took  over 
from  the  Jews  this  collection  of  "sacred  writ- 
ings," and  later  formed  an  additional  collection 
of  their  own,  which  in  turn  came  to  acquire 
sanctity  and  authority.  With  the  development 
of  the  church,  and  the  use  of  these  documents 
as  standards  of  doctrine  and  discipline,  Chris- 
tian writers  began  to  make  use  of  the  Greek 
word  KCCVCOV  in  a  technical  sense,  and  to  speak 
of  a  canon  of  scripture. 

Though  the  use  of  the  word  "canon"  in  con- 
nection with  an  authoritative  body  of  scripture 
is  of  Christian  origin,  the  conception  which  it 
crystallized  in  a  convenient  technical  term  was 
in  operation  long  before  any  precise  term  was 
used.  We  have  the  conception  wherever  in  a 
religious  community  there  comes  into  existence 
a  collection  of  writings  marked  off  as  especially 
sacred  and  authoritative,  and  so  in  modern 
books  we  speak  of  the  Zoroastrian  canon  or  the 
Taoist  canon,  and  distinguish  in  Buddhism  be- 
tween the  Sanskrit,  Pali,  Tibetan,  and  Chinese 
canons.  In  none  of  these  religions  is  the  term 
used  in  the  native  sources,  but  the  conception 
is  there.  When  in  any  religion  the  stage  is 
reached  where  the  community  is  conscious  that 
the  authentic  voice  of  religious  authority  is  no 
longer  heard,  the  writings  which  had  been  pro- 
duced in  that  past  in  which  such  an  authentic 
voice  had  been  heard  and  recognized  tend  to 
be  marked  out  by  that  fact  and  so  to  be  set 
aside  as  the  writings  sacred  to  the  community. 
This  would  not  preclude  the  possibility  of 
adding  to  them  at  some  future  time  other  writ- 
ings in  which  once  again  the  sure  voice  of  reli- 
gious authority  was  heard,  nor  indeed  of  the 
adding  to  them  of  historical  records,  or  memo- 
rials of  the  past  of  the  community,  without 
which  much  of  the  meaning  of  "the  word  of 
prophecy"  might  be  lost.  Furthermore,  the  con- 
ception is  not  incompatible  with  some  diversity 
of  opinion  as  to  the  extent  of  such  a  corpus  of 
sacred  writings,  as  to  what  should  be  included 
and  what  omitted. 

While  Christian  theologians  may  recognize 
in  the  process  of  scriptural  canonization  the 
official  act  of  the  church  and  the  providential 
work  of  the  Holy  Spirit  (see  article,  "The 
Bible:  Its  Significance  and  Authority,"  pp.  3- 
31),  historians  can  merely  state  that  a  canon 
of  scripture  is  not  something  given,  but  some- 
thing humanly  devised.  From  the  historical 
point  of  view  the  canon  is  the  result  of  human 
decision  as  to  which  among  the  religious  writ- 
ings existing  in  a  community  are  those  in  which 


it  recognizes  the  authentic  voice  of  religious 
authority  speaking  to  man.  It  is  likewise  clear 
that  canonization  is  something  entirely  apart 
from  the  process  of  collection,  and  that  it  is  not 
necessarily  connected  with  the  public  use  of  a 
body  of  writings.  We  have  ample  evidence  of 
the  collection  and  use  in  a  community  of  reli- 
gious writings  which  have  never  become  part  of 
any  canonical  collection  of  scripture.  In  gen- 
eral it  is  the  effort  to  preserve  the  community 
from  some  threat  to  its  religious  life,  whether 
from  heresy  or  false  teaching  or  some  such 
calamity,  that  leads  it  to  place  the  seal  of  its 
approval  on  certain  writings  to  the  exclusion  of 
others,  already  collected  and  in  use,  as  being 
those  alone  in  which  it  recognizes  the  authentic 
voice  of  authority.  It  is  possible  to  think  of  a 
"vider  and  a  narrower  sense  of  the  word  "canon- 
ization." It  may  be  argued  that  a  collection  of 
writings  may  come  into  use  in  a  religious  com- 
munity and  by  custom  and  general  recognition 
come  to  be  regarded  as  of  religious  authority, 
without  there  ever  having  been  any  formal  pro- 
nouncement as  to  its  canonization.  In  this  wider 
sense  we  could  speak  of  a  growing  canon,  as  at 
different  periods  we  find  different  groups  of 
writings  attaining  an  authoritative  position.  In 
the  stricter  sense,  however,  canonization  means 
a  definite  formulation  whereby  a  body  of  writ- 
ings is  set  aside  because  those  writings  are  rec- 
ognized as  authoritative. 

II.  Growth  of  the  Hebrew  Writings 

The  story  of  the  growth  of  Hebrew  literature 
is  in  no  fundamental  way  different  from  that  of 
the  growth  of  literature  among  other  peoples. 
Everywhere  the  beginnings  of  national  litera- 
ture are  oral.  As  the  people  attain  to  literacy 
there  is  the  tendency  to  put  this  national  litera- 
ture— the  tales  of  origins,  the  annals  of  the 
kings,  the  deeds  of  the  heroic  age,  the  oracles 
of  the  shrines,  the  priestly  liturgies,  the  popular 
religious  songs,  the  wisdom  of  the  sages,  and  so 
forth — into  written  form.  These  types  are  com- 
mon to  many  peoples  in  the  ancient  world. 
Among  the  Israelites  we  can  recognize  several 
such  types  of  literary  endeavor  slowly  develop- 
ing to  form  a  body  of  writings  preserved  in  a 
fixed  form:  (a)  fragments  of  early  song;  (6) 
archives  and  chronicles;  (c)  laws;  (d)  prophe- 
cies; (e)  history;  (/)  cult  books;  (g)  wisdom 
books.  Parallels  to  all  of  these  types  can  be 
found  in  the  literature  of  the  surrounding  peo- 
ples. Not  all  the  literature  that  was  produced  in 
ancient  Israel  is  contained  in  the  Old  Testa- 
ment as  we  know  it,  nor  even  in  the  wider  range 
of  the  apocryphal  and  pseudepigraphal  books. 
Some  of  it  was  produced  as  early  as  the  tenth 
century  B.C.,  and  some  of  it  as  late  as  the  last 
century  before  the  Christian  Era.  Some  of  it 


33 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


has  survived  only  in  very  fragmentary  form. 
Most  of  it  is  anonymous,  some  of  it  pseudony- 
mous, and  even  that  which  appears  under  a 
definite  name  is  commonly  found  to  be  inter- 
polated with  material  from  other  sources.  Some 
of  it  is  definitely  religious,  and  some  of  it  would 
not  strike  us  at  first  as  being  religious  literature 
at  all.  Two  main  questions  should  therefore  be 
asked:  How  and  why  did  the  various  books  of 
the  present  Old  Testament  come  to  be  con- 
sidered as  having  such  religious  authority  as  to 
be  included  in  a  canon  of  scripture,  and  how 
and  why  did  other  books  come  to  be  excluded 
from  that  canon? 

III.  The  Word  Canon 

The  Greek  word  KOCVCOV  comes  from  a  Semitic 
word  meaning  "reed."  The  reed  was  one  of 
man's  earliest  measuring  instruments,  so  that 
KOCVCOV,  whose  earliest  meaning  in  Greek  was 
"straight  rod/*  came  to  designate  specifically 
"measuring  rod"  such  as  was  used  by  carpenters, 
and  then  metaphorically,  like  the  Latin  norma 
or  regula,  came  to  stand  for  that  which  regu- 
lates, rules,  or  serves  as  a  norm  or  pattern 
for  other  things.  Later  in  literary  criticism  the 
Alexandrian  grammarians  referred  to  their  col- 
lection of  ancient  writings  as  a  KCCVCOV,  because 
this  collection  was  the  standard  for  pure  lan- 
guage and  the  model  for  composition.  From 
this,  by  an  easy  step,  carne  its  use  in  ethics  for 
the  standard  of  good  living.  It  is  in  this  ethical 
sense  that  the  word  is  used  in  the  New  Testa- 
ment (Gal.  6:16;  II  Cor.  10:13-16)  as  the  rule 
for  conduct  or  doctrine,  and  in  the  early  church 
for  the  "rule  of  faith  and  conduct."  As  the  rule 
of  faith  was  based  on  the  scriptures  we  find  the 
word  associated  with  scripture  as  early  as 
Origen.  According  to  the  usage  of  the  early 
ecclesiastical  writers,  however,  there  is  some 
confusion  among  three  meanings  of  the  words 
"canonical  scripture."  Sometimes  it  seems  to 
mean  that  the  books  were  constituted  into  a 
standard,  that  is,  they  were  the  KCCVCOV  by  which 
other  things  were  to  be  judged.  Sometimes  the 
idea  seems  to  be  that  they  were  books  which 
corresponded  to  a  standard,  namely,  the  stand- 
ard of  faith.  And  sometimes  it  would  appear  to 
mean  that  these  are  the  books  which  have  been 
taken  up  into  an  authoritative  catalogue.  In  all 
three  cases,  however,  there  is  the  recognition  of 
a  definite  body  of  literature  considered  to  be 
canonical. 

IV.  The  Various  Witnesses  of  the  Canon 

While  the  Christians  took  over  a  scripture 
from  the  Jews,  they  did  not  take  over  any  well- 
defined  collection.  In  fact,  in  the  latter  part  of 
the  second  century  we  find  a  Christian  bishop, 
Melito  of  Sardis,  puzzled  as  to  the  exact  number 


and  order  of  the  Old  Testament  books,  and 
undertaking  a  journey  to  the  East  "accurately 
to  ascertain"  what  the  truth  of  the  matter 
might  be.  In  the  early  Christian  centuries,  in- 
deed, there  was  some  dispute  among  the  Jews 
themselves  as  to  the  extent  of  the  canon,  though 
Jewish  consensus  was  in  favor  of  the  collection 
we  have  in  our  Protestant  Bible.  The  earliest 
Christian  communities  had  largely  followed 
Alexandrian  usage,  but  after  Origen's  labors  on 
the  text,  the  Greek-speaking  churches  tended 
to  follow  the  Jewish  consensus,  and  this  attitude 
was  supported  by  Jerome.  In  the  Latin-speaking 
churches,  however,  the  authority  of  Augustine 
drew  the  communities  away  from  Jerome  to 
the  wider  canon  that  had  been  current  in  Alex- 
andria, and  the  Greek  churches  soon  followed. 
With  the  Reformation,  the  Protestant  groups 
swung  back  again  to  the  Jewish  consensus,  and, 
in  opposition,  the  Council  of  Trent  formally 
declared  in  favor  of  the  Alexandrian  usage  as 
sanctioned  by  Augustine. 

The  question  of  the  extent  of  the  canon  can 
thus  be  approached  historically  only  by  con- 
sidering what  evidence  is  available  concerning 
the  assembling  of  these  writings  which  were 
considered  to  have  religious  authority. 

A.  Hebrew  Scriptures. — The  Hebrew  text  of 
the  Old  Testament  presents  a  corpus  of  writings 
already  selected  and  arranged.  There  are  in  it 
some  indications  of  the  way  in  which  these 
writings  came  to  be  set  aside  as  sacred  and 
authoritative: 

(a)  The  law  codes  in  Israel,  as  those  of  Ham- 
murabi in  Babylon  and  of  Manu  in  India,  were 
placed  under  religious  sanction    (Exod.   20:1; 
cf.  24:3-8) ,  and  we  have  references  to  the  tablets 
on  which  the  law  was  written  being  placed  in 
association  with  the  ark  and  especially  vener- 
ated. Since  it  was  customary  among  the  sur- 
rounding peoples  to  deposit  at  shrines  docu- 
ments of  an  official  nature,  there  is  nothing 
improbable  in  the  accounts  of  Moses    (Deut. 
51:9  £),   Joshua    (24:25-26),    and   Samuel    (I 
Sam.  10:25)  writing  covenants  and  laying  them 
up  at  the  sanctuary. 

(b)  In  II  Kings  22:3  ff.  we  read  how  in  the 
reign  of  Josiah,  Hilkiah  the  high  priest  came 
upon  such  a  book  of  law  in  the  sanctuary,  the 
reading  of  which  caused  great  consternation, 
resulting  in  wide  reforms  and  a  solemn  cove- 
nant of  king  and  people  to  abide  by  the  words 
written  in  this  book,  which  they  were  conscious 
of  not  having  followed.  We  have  here  a  clear 
account  of  a  document  being  regarded  as  a 
regula. 

(c)  The  writings  of  the  later  prophets  and 
the  psalmists  show  acquaintance  with  the  books 
of  their  predecessors,  and  give  us  good  evidence 
that  during  and  after  the  Exile  there  were  in 


34 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


circulation  some  literary  pieces  regarded  as 
those  in  which  the  authentic  voice  of  religious 
authority  was  heard. 

(d)  In  the  account  of  the  return  from  the 
Exile  we  read  of  how  Ezra  came  with  the  law  of 
his  God  in  his  hand  (Ezra  7:14,  25),  a  law 
which  he  was  to  administer  among  the  people; 
while  in  Neh.  8-10  we  have  an  account  of  how 
the  law  was  read  aloud  by  Ezra  in  popular  as- 
sembly, and  solemnly  sealed  and  accepted  as 
the  authoritative  regula  for  community  life. 

In  all  of  this  there  is  no  hint  of  a  canon  of 
scripture,  but  there  are  some  of  the  elements 
out  of  which  such  a  canon  could  arise.  We  find 
writings  considered  as  sacred  and  tending  to  be 
collected,  though  there  was  no  fixed  body  of 
them,  since  the  Chronicler  made  use  of  some 
which  were  not  preserved  in  the  final  collection. 
We  find  the  sense  of  writings  being  authorita- 
tive as  a  regula.  We  find  official  pronouncement 
of  certain  writings  as  authoritative,  though  what 
Ezra  is  said  to  have  "canonized"  was  a  body  of 
laws,  and  so  not  the  Pentateuch  as  we  have  it, 
which  contains  much  besides  law  and  indeed 
includes  material  from  a  time  later  than  that  of 
Ezra.  The  canon  of  scripture  had  not  yet  come 
into  existence. 

B.  The  Hellenistic  Bible.— As  early  as  the 
third  century  B.C.  the  Jews  of  the  Diaspora 
needed  a  Greek  version  of  their  religious  writ- 
ings, and  finally  came  to  have  a  Hellenistic 
Bible  known  to  us  as  the  Septuagint.  Different 
parts  of  it  were  translated  at  different  times  and 
under  different  circumstances,  but  we  have 
actual  fragments  of  it  from  as  early  as  the 
middle  of  the  second  century  B.C.,  and  consider- 
able manuscripts  from  the  fourth  century  A.D., 
whereas  we  have  no  considerable  manuscripts  of 
the  Hebrew  Bible  earlier  than  the  ninth  cen- 
tury A.D.  The  Hellenistic  Bible  contains  all  the 
writings  that  are  in  our  Hebrew  Bible,  though 
it  arranges  the  material  somewhat  differently 
and  adds  some  material  not  found  in  any  He- 
brew manuscripts  of  the  Bible. 

The  additional  material  in  the  Septuagint 
consists  of  (a)  translations  of  other  Hebrew 
writings,  e.g.,  Ecclesiasticus  (Ben  Sirach) , 
Judith,  I  Maccabees;  (b)  works  composed  in 
Greek,  e.g.,  I  Esdras,  Tobit,  Wisdom  of  Solo- 
mon, Baruch,  II  Maccabees;  (c)  supplements 
in  Greek  to  certain  of  the  Hebrew  writings, 
e.g.,  the  additions  to  Esther,  Susanna,  the  Song 
of  the  Three  Children,  and  Bel  and  the  Dragon, 
which  are  supplements  to  Daniel;  (d)  a  fringe 
of  writings  which  appear  in  some  manuscripts 
but  not  in  others,  e.g.,  Prayer  of  Manasses,  III 
and  IV  Maccabees.  It  is  possible  that  such  books 
as  Enoch,  II  Esdras  (IV  Ezra) ,  the  Testaments 
of  the  Twelve  Patriarchs,  and  the  Psalms  of 
Solomon,  also  once  belonged  to  this  fringe. 


The  witness  of  the  Septuagint  is  important 
on  account  of  its  age  and  because  it  shows  quite 
clearly  that  there  was  as  yet  no  fixed  canon.  It 
treats  its  extra  writings  as  on  a  level  with 
those  in  the  Hebrew  Bible,  and  in  its  manner 
of  translating  suggests  clearly  that  its  translators 
were  not  working  on  a  text  which  they  con- 
sidered as  fixed  ne  varietur.  Its  fringe  also  re- 
veals the  fact  that  there  was  as  yet  no  certainty 
as  to  the  exact  range  of  books  that  should  be 
included  in  the  collection. 

C.  The  Samaritan  Pentateuch. — The  Samari- 
tans have  a  Pentateuch,  in  their  own  script, 
which  for  the  most  part  agrees  closely  with  the 
Pentateuch  in  the  Hebrew  Bible,  though  it  has 
certain   peculiarities   of  its  own,    and   certain 
curious  resemblances  to  the  text  of  the  Septua- 
gint. We  have  no  actual  evidence  as  to  when 
and  where  this  text  was  formed,  but  it  is  a 
reasonable  inference  that  the  Samaritans  pro- 
vided themselves  with  such  a  text  after  their 
breach  with  the  Jews.  It  is  furthermore  reason- 
able to  infer  that  at  the  time  they  made  their 
copy  the  Pentateuch  was  a  writing  not  only 
recognized  officially  as  authoritative  but  already 
approaching  a  fixed  form.  The  question  is  the 
date  at  which  the  Samaritan  copy  was  made. 

The  usual  assumption  is  that  it  was  made 
somewhere  around  432  B.C.,  when  Manasseh, 
the  son-in-law  of  Sanballat,  went  off  to  found  a 
community  in  Samaria,  as  related  in  Neh.  13:28 
and  Josephus  Antiquities  XI.  7.  2;  8.  2.  Josephus 
himself,  however,  dates  this  event  in  the  days 
of  Alexander  the  Great,  and  though  there  is  a 
notorious  confusion  in  Josephus  at  this  point, 
he  may  be  right  about  the  Gerizim  temple  dat- 
ing from  332,  and  that  may  have  been  the  date 
of  the  copying  of  their  Pentateuch.  Recent 
scholarship,  however,  is  inclined  to  think  that 
the  real  schism  between  the  peoples  did  not  take 
place  till  Hasmonean  times,  when  the  Gerizim 
temple  was  destroyed  in  128  B.C.  The  script  of 
the  Samaritan  Pentateuch,  its  close  connections 
at  many  points  with  the  Septuagint,  and  its 
even  closer  agreement  with  our  present  Hebrew 
text,  all  suggest  a  date  about  12£  B.C. 

In  any  case,  the  Samaritan  Pentateuch,  while 
it  constitutes  evidence  that  the  Pentateuch,  in 
a  form  not  very  different  from  its  present  one, 
was  at  that  time  a  document  having  official 
sanction  which  could  be  taken  over  as  some- 
thing recognized  as  authoritative  is,  however, 
no  evidence  that  there  were  not  other  collec- 
tions of  writings  also  in  existence  which  were 
equally  regarded  as  authoritative,  but  which  the 
Samaritans  felt  no  need  to  take  over. 

D.  Ben  Sirach  (ca.  180  B.C.). — The  Wisdom 
of  Jesus  ben  Sirach,  or  Ecclesiasticus,  seems  to 
have  been  written  in  Hebrew  about  180  B.C., 
and  fragments  of  the  text  in  the  original  lan- 


35 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


guage  have  been  recovered.  In  its  complete 
form,  however,  it  exists  only  in  the  Greek  trans- 
lation made  in  Alexandria  about  130  B.C.  by 
the   author's  grandson.  Ben  Sirach  seems   to 
regard  himself  as  writing  a  genuine  continua- 
tion of  the  Prophets  and  of   the  books   of 
Wisdom  (Ecclus.  24:32-34) ,  and  to  have  no  con- 
sciousness of  the  existence  of  a  scripture  collec- 
tion that  is  closed  and  to  which  no  additions 
can  be  made.  He  knows  of  the  Law  as  something 
quite  apart  and  to  be  regarded  in  a  very  special 
way,  but  whether  the  Law  as  he  knows  it  is  to 
be  identified  with  our  Pentateuch  is  something 
which  cannot  be  determined.  In  chs.  44  and  49 
he  makes  a  survey  of  the  national  heroes,  and 
it  is  significant  that  he  mentions  them  in  a 
particular  order.  In  chs.  44-45  he  follows  the 
Pentateuch;  in  46:1-12,  Joshua  and  Judges;  in 
vss.  13-20,  Samuel.  Ch.  47  begins  with  a  list 
drawn  from  the  books  of  Kings  and  Chronicles, 
and  this  combination  continues  to  49:6.  In  49:7 
we  meet  with  Jeremiah,  in  vss.  8-10,  Ezekiel  and 
the  Twelve,  while  vss.  11-13  depend  on  Ezra- 
Nehemiah,    and   vss.    14-16    may   indicate   a 
knowledge  of  some  of  the  books  on  the  fringe 
of  the  Septuagint.   There  is  no  mention   of 
Daniel,  Esther,  or  Ezra,  but  Ben  Sirach  knows 
of  certain  praises  of  David  (47:8),  songs,  prov- 
erbs, and  parables  of  Solomon    (47:17),  and 
prophecies  of  Isaiah   (48:22  if.) .  He  may^  be 
merely  reproducing  a  list  from  oral  tradition, 
but  his  order  suggests  that  he  is  using  source 
material  from  a  collection  very  similar  in  ar- 
rangement to  that  in  the  Hellenistic  Bible,  a 
collection  which  is  not  yet  on  the  same  level  of 
authority  as  the  Law,  but  is  in  a  sense  parallel 
to  it. 

The  witness  of  the  grandson  who  translated 
the  book  is  more  definite.  He  composed  a  pro- 
logue to  his  translation  in  which  he  thrice 
refers  to  the  sacred  books  of  his  people: 

(a)  Since  many  great  things  have  been  communi- 
cated to  us  by  the  Law  and  the  Prophets  and 
the  others  who  followed  in  their  steps 

(6)  My  grandfather,  Jesus,  having  long  devoted 
himself  to  the  reading  of  the  Law  and  the 
Prophets,  and  the  other  hooks  of  our  fathers, 
and  having  gained  great  familiarity  with  them, 
was  led  himself  to  write  somewhat.  .  .  . 

(c)  And  not  only  these  things,  but  the  Law  itself, 
and  the  prophecies,  and  the  rest  of  the  books, 
have  no  small  difference  when  spoken  in  their 
originals. 

Here  we  have  quite  definite  testimony  to  the 
existence  of  collections  of  writings  which  are 
regarded  with  particular  reverence  as  having 
been  handed  down  from  the  fathers.  Moreover, 
there  are  three  groups  of  these,  the  Law,  the 
Prophets,  and  the  other  Writings,  which  is  sig- 


nificant inasmuch  as  in  our  Hebrew  Bible  the 
various  books  are  arranged  in  three  groups 
labeled  the  Law,  the  Prophets,  and  the  Holy 
Writings  (Hagiographa) .  Yet  this  writer  does 
not  feel  that  there  is  anything  to  hinder  his 
grandfather's  work  from  being  added  to  the 
religious  literature  of  his  people.  As  a  matter  of 
fact,  it  is  claimed  that  there  is  Maccabean  ma- 
terial in  our  Hebrew  Bible  which  was  written 
later  than  the  time  of  Sirach. 

E.  Simeon  ben  Shetach  (ca.  75  B.C.).— If  the 
evidence  of  the  Talmud  can  be  trusted,  this 
celebrated  Pharisee,  who  lived  in  the  first  half 
of  the  first  century  B.C.,  quoted  Eccl.  7:12  with 
the   introductory  formula,   "it   is  written/'   a 
phrase  used  only  in  quoting  scripture;  quoted 
Prov.  23:25  with  the  words  "scripture  saith," 
and  perhaps  quoted  Sirach  the  same  way.  If 
this  is  not  just  a  case  of  later  usage  being  at- 
tributed to  Simeon,  it  means  that  certain  books 
in    the   Hagiographa   were   being   quoted    as 
scripture  at  the  beginning  of  the  first  century 
B.C.,   and   that  perhaps   Sirach  was   included 
among  them. 

F.  The  Books  of  Maccabees  (ca.  90*50  B.C.).-— 
Our  interest  in  I  Maccabees,  which  seems  to 
have  been  written  in  Hebrew  somewhere  be- 
tween 90  and  70  B.C.,  is  that  it  depicts  the  whole 
Maccabean  struggle  as  due  to  zeal  for  the  Law. 
For  this  author  and  his  contemporaries  the  Law 
was  not  only  a  regula  but  something  for  which 
men  would  fight  and  die.  He  knew  the  Law  as 
something  in  written  form  and  in  the  hands  of 
the  people,  for  in  1:56  he  tells  us  that  whenever 
the  officials  of  Antiochus  found  copies  of  the 
book  of  the  Law  they  tore  them  up  and  burned 
them,  and  in  3:48  he  says  that  when  the  people 
gathered  together  at  Mizpeh  "they  unrolled 
the  roll  of  the  Law."  Whether  this  Law  coin- 
cided with  our  Pentateuch  we  have  no  means  of 
knowing.  Beyond  the  Law  he  shows  acquaint- 
ance with  stories  from  Exodus,  Joshua,  Judges, 
Samuel,  Kings,  and  he  is  familiar  with  the  story 
of  Daniel.  These  he  may  have  known,  however, 
from  oral  tradition,  though  the  words  in  12:9, 
"We  find  encouragement  in  the  sacred  books 
that  are  in  our  keeping,"  suggest  that  other 
sacred  writings  in  addition  to  the  Law  were  in 
circulation  among  the  people.  He   seems   to 
quote  from  Ps.  79:3  in  7:17,  and  has  remi- 
niscences o£  other  psalms   and  of  Jeremiah. 
There  is  no  evidence,  however,  that  he  knew 
the  Psalter  and  the  Prophets  as  we  have  them. 

II  Maccabees  is  a  Greek  writing  apparently 
of  Alexandrian  origin,  dating  from  the  middle 
of  the  first  century  B.C.,  or  maybe  earlier,  and 
while  it  is  so  rhetorical  as  to  be  of  very  little 
use  for  historical  purposes,  its  author's  ideas  of 
scripture  probably  reflect  those  of  his  milieu. 
As  to  the  extent  of  scripture  known  to  him,  we 


36 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


note  that:  (a)  the  law  of  Moses  is  to  him  funda- 
mental to  the  whole  social  and  religious  life  of 
his  people;  (b)  he  is  acquainted  with  the  nar- 
ratives of  Kings;  (c)  he  is  familiar  with  the 
custom  of  singing  psalms,  though  we  have  no 
evidence  that  he  used  our  Psalter;  (d)  Jere- 
miah is  to  him  a  writing  prophet;  (e)  he  is 
familiar  with  the  stories  of  Nehemiah  and  of 
Esther.  As  to  his  evidence  in  regard  to  collected 
scripture  we  may  note  that:  (a)  in  8:23,  when 
Judas  was  assembling  and  encouraging  his  fol- 
lowers to  resist  Nicanor,  after  dividing  them 
he  "read  out  of  the  holy  book,"  which  obviously 
must  be  some  scripture;  (b)  in  15:9,  Judas 
encouraged  his  men  "from  the  Law  and  the 
Prophets,"  which  are  clearly  regarded  as  valu- 
able documents  of  national  importance,  and  of 
course  may  be  the  "book"  of  8:23;  (c)  in  2:13- 
15,  we  have  the  following  passage:  "The  same 
things  were  reported  also  in  the  writings  and 
memoirs  about  Nehemiah,  how,  in  forming  a 
library,  he  gathered  together  the  books  about 
the  kings  and  prophets,  and  those  of  David,  and 
epistles  of  kings  about  gifts.  In  like  manner 
also  Judas  gathered  together  for  us  all  those 
[books]  that  had  been  scattered  because  of  the 
war  that  had  come  to  pass,  and  they  are  with  us." 

A  great  deal  more  has  at  times  been  drawn 
from  this  passage  than  it  will  warrant,  but  one 
cannot  resist  the  conclusion  that  we  have  here 
a  more  advanced  conception  of  a  canonical  col- 
lection than  we  have  met  hitherto.  The  "holy 
book"  of  8:23  is  clearly  a  writing  held  sacred, 
which  is  one  prime  requisite  of  canonicity.  The 
author  uses  the  phrase  "the  Law  and  the  Proph- 
ets" precisely  as  does  the  New  Testament,  and 
he  probably  knew  these  as  two  collections, 
though  it  does  not  follow  that  they  included 
what  we  now  have  in  these  sections  in  our  He- 
brew Bible.  The  reference  to  the  work  of 
Nehemiah  and  Judas  also  suggests  that  there 
existed  at  that  time  a  collection  of  "writings" 
of  the  type  that  we  know  in  the  Hebrew  Bible, 
though  there  is  no  reference  to  canonization, 
nor  can  we  assume  that  what  he  meant  by 
"David"  or  "kings  and  prophets"  coincided 
with  what  we  mean  by  them. 

G.  Philo  Judaeus  (ca.  A.D.  40). — Being  an 
Alexandrian,  Philo  normally  used  the  Septua- 
gint,  though  he  seems  to  have  known  the  He- 
brew text.  His  evidence  is  to  be  dated  about 
A.D.  40,  and  the  free  and  easy  way  in  which  he 
deals  with  scripture  is  clear  evidence  that  to 
him  the  text  is  not  sacrosanct,  though  it  may  be 
sacred.  He  quotes  from  or  refers  to  every  book 
of  the  Hebrew  Bible  save  Ezekiel,  Daniel,  Ruth, 
Esther,  Lamentations,  Ecclesiastes,  and  Song  of 
Songs.  For  him  the  Law  is  definitely  our  Penta- 
teuch, and  he  actually  refers  to  four  of  its  five 
parts  by  their  names.  All  scripture,  however,  not 


only  the  Law,  is  inspired,  and  he  speaks  of 
"most  holy  scriptures,"  "sacred  oracles,"  "sacred 
word,"  and  so  forth,  in  a  way  that  leaves  no 
doubt  that  these  were  writings  in  collected 
form  having  a  definite  place  of  religious  author- 
ity in  the  community.  It  is  significant  that  he 
never  quotes  from  the  extra  books  of  the  Hel- 
lenistic Bible,  or  from  those  which  were  dis- 
puted in  the  rabbinical  schools. 

The  commonly  adduced  passage  from  The 
Contemplative  Life  III,  which  makes  Philo 
bear  witness  to  the  threefold  division  of  Law, 
Prophets,  and  other  writings,  is  no  work  of 
Philo,  but  a  tractate  of  the  third  or  fourth 
century  A.D. 

H.  The  New  Testament  (ca.  AJD.  50-150).— 
There  are  abundant  references  to  scripture  in 
the  New  Testament.  That  these  scripture  books 
were  regarded  as  sacred  is  evidenced  not  only 
by  the  fact  that  they  are  called  "holy  writings" 
(Rom.  1:2;  II  Tim.  3:15),  and  referred  to  as 
God-given  (II  Tim.  3:16;  Matt.  22:43;  Acts 
4:25) ,  but  also  by  the  fact  that  their  character 
is  such  that  it  is  sufficient  to  say  "it  is  written" 
(Matt.  4:6;  Gal.  3:13;  etc.).  That  they  were 
regarded  as  authoritative  is  equally  clear  from 
the  way  in  which  appeal  is  made  to  them 
(Matt.  21:42;  Rom.  11:2).  This  authority  ap- 
plies to  all  parts  of  the  Old  Testament.  In  Heb. 
3:7  it  refers  to  Exodus  and  Numbers,  but  in 
Heb.  10:15  the  reference  is  to  Jeremiah,  in  Acts 
2:16  to  Joel,  in  Rom.  9:25  to  Hosea,  while  in 
Acts  4:25;  13:34;  Heb.  13:5  it  is  to  the  Psalms. 
Yet  here  again,  scripture  though  sacred  is  not 
sacrosanct.  Quotations  are  given  inaccurately, 
passages  from  different  books  are  run  together 
in  one  quotation,  and  passages  are  given  as 
quotations  from  scripture  which  cannot  be 
found  in  our  Old  Testament,  not  even  the  extra 
books,  and  are  best  regarded  as  Old  Testament 
reminiscences  (e.g.,  Luke  11:49;  John  7:38; 
Eph.  5:14;  Jas.  4:5) .  As  to  the  extent  of  scrip- 
ture, we  find  that  the  Law  is  scripture  in  a 
special  sense,  so  that  it  may  stand  for  the  whole 
Old  Testament,  and  the  Psalms  and  Isaiah  may 
be  quoted  as  the  Law.  The  Law  and  the  Proph- 
ets are  frequently  mentioned  together  and  are 
apparently  of  equal  authority,  both  seeming  to 
be  read  regularly  in  the  synagogues  (Acts  13: 
15) .  In  Luke  24:44  we  find  the  Psalms  on  a  level 
with  the  Prophets  and  the  Law.  Quotations  or 
reminiscences  of  all  the  books  in  the  Old  Testa- 
ment have  been  recognized,  except  from  Oba- 
diah,  Nahum,  Zephaniah,  Esther,  Ecclesiastes, 
Song  of  Songs,  Ruth,  Lamentations,  Ezra,  Nehe- 
miah, and  Chronicles.  There  are  also  references 
to  or  reminiscences  of  I  Maccabees,  Enoch, 
Wisdom  of  Solomon,  Sirach,  the  Martyrdom  of 
Isaiah,  the  Assumption  of  Moses,  and  the  Apoc- 
alypse of  Elias.  These  writings,  both  of  the 


37 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


regular  Hellenistic  Bible  and  of  those  on  the 
fringe,  seem  for  the  most  part  to  be  known  as 
written  sources,  and  to  be  treated  in  no  funda- 
mental way  differently  from  the  books  of  the 
Hebrew  Bible.  The  writers  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment could  thus  not  have  been  conscious  of 
the  existence  of  any  fixed  canon  of  such  writ- 
ings. The  special  treatment  accorded  to  the 
Law  would  suggest  that  it  was  recognized  as 
having  some  special  sanctity  and  authority,  but 
not  that  its  authority  was  different  in  nature 
from  that  of  the  other  books.  The  evidence  fre- 
quently adduced  to  prove  that  the  New  Testa- 
ment knows  the  tripartite  division  of  our  He- 
brew Bible  is  insufficient  to  prove  this. 

The  evidence  of  the  New  Testament  thus 
points  to  the  existence  of  a  recognized  collec- 
tion, but  one  wider  than  that  of  the  Hebrew 
Bible.  Its  quotations  are  most  commonly,  but 
not  exclusively,  from  the  Hellenistic  Bible.  It 
regards  scripture  as  sacred  but  not  yet  sacro- 
sanct, though  it  treats  it  as  something  that  has 
long  been  held  as  sacred,  and  is  apparently  all 
of  equal  inspiration,  not,  as  sometimes  held,  of 
three  degrees  of  inspiration. 

/.  Josephus  (ca.  A.D.  100). — The  witness  of 
Josephus  is  contemporary  with  that  of  parts  of 
the  New  Testament,  and  like  its  writers,  he 
prefers  the  Hellenistic  Bible,  utilizing  Esdras, 
I  Maccabees,  and  the  additions  to  Esther  as 
readily  as  he  does  the  books  of  the  Hebrew 
Bible.  It  is  in  his  Against  Apion  I.  8  that  he 
makes  his  important  contribution  to  the  ques- 
tion of  the  canon: 

There  are  not  with  us  myriads  of  books  disagree- 
ing and  contradicting  one  another,  but  only  two- 
and-twenty  books  containing  the  record  of  all  time, 
and  which  rightly  are  believed  in.  Of  these,  five  are 
those  of  Moses,  which  contain  the  laws  and  the 
tradition  as  to  the  origin  of  mankind  till  his  death. 
This  period  falls  little  short  of  three  thousand  years. 
From  the  death  of  Moses  till  Artaxerxes,  who  was 
king  of  the  Persians  after  Xerxes,  the  prophets  who 
came  after  Moses  wrote  of  the  things  that  came  to 
pass  in  their  times,  in  thirteen  books.  The  remain- 
ing four  [books]  contain  hymns  to  God  and  maxims 
of  life  for  men.  From  Artaxerxes  to  our  own  time 
all  things  have  been  recorded,  but  not  esteemed 
worthy  of  like  credit  with  those  which  preceded 
them,  because  of  there  not  being  an  exact  succession 
of  prophets.  There  is  practical  proof  of  how  we 
treat  these  same  writings,  for  though  so  long  a  time 
has  now  elapsed,  no  one  has  dared  either  to  add  to 
them  or  to  make  any  change.  But  it  is  natural  to  all 
Jews  straightway  from  the  day  of  birth  to  consider 
these  as  the  teachings  of  God,  and  to  stand  by  them, 
and  if  needful  gladly  to  die  on  their  behalf. 

It  is  immediately  clear  that  Josephus  speaks 
with  two  voices.  As  a  historian  presenting  his 
case  to  a  Hellenistic  public,  he  uses  the  whole 


range  of  writings  in  the  Hellenistic  Bible,  claim- 
ing that  the  whole  history  of  his  people  is  con- 
tained in  TOC  tepd  ypocnuorrcc  (Preface  to  Antiqui- 
ties III) ,  and  that  he  has  written  his  history  6q 
at  Icpai  pif&oi  rapi  TTOCVTCOV  exoucnv  TTJV  <5cvocypaqjT)v 
(Antiquities  XX.  11.  2),  but  he  knows  that 
there  is  a  narrower  acceptation  of  the  range  of 
scripture,  and  when  speaking  as  a  pious  Jew, 
he  confines  scripture  to  the  range  of  the  twenty- 
two  books  in  the  Hebrew  Bible.  With  regard 
to  this  narrower  range  we  notice  that: 

(a)  He  considers  the  process  of  selection 
among  the  writings  as  having  already  come  to 
an  end,  the  community  possessing  a  collection 
of  sacred  writings  limited  in  number,  to  which 
no  further  additions  can  be  made.  Moreover, 
the  textual  form  of  this  collection  is  fixed,  so 
that  no  one  would  dare  to  make  any  change 
therein. 

(b)  The  writings  in  this  collection  have  more 
than  human  authority,  must  be  believed  in  and 
stood  by,  and  if  necessary  one  must  be  prepared 
to  die  for  them. 

(c)  A  principle  had  governed  the  selection 
of  these  writings,  for  only  such  were  included 
as  were  considered  to  have  been  written  in  past 
days  when  the  genuine  voice  of  prophecy  could 
still  be  heard.  Josephus  defines  the  period  as 
from  Moses  to  Artaxerxes,  and  apparently  re- 
gards the  historical  works  as  written  by  the 
prophets. 

(d)  While  his  division  of  the  parts  is  the 
Hellenistic    division,    he    nevertheless    clearly 
recognizes  a  tripartite  division  of  scripture — 
law,  prophets,  hymns  and  maxims. 

K.  II  Esdras  (IV  Ezra,  ca.  A.D.  90*120).— The 
main  portion  of  this  writing  seems  to  date  from 
about  A.D.  90,  and  in  it  the  Law  is  the  essential 
part  of  scripture,  though  it  knows  of  Daniel, 
Enoch,  Job,  Isaiah,  and  Jeremiah,  and  enumer- 
ates the  Twelve  in  the  Septuagint  order.  Ch.  14, 
however,  is  a  later  insertion,  perhaps  to  be 
dated  at  A.D.  120,  and  in  vss.  1948  we  have  a 
strange  story  of  Esdras  complaining  that  the 
law  of  Moses  has  been  burned  so  that  no  man 
knows  what  things  were  done  of  God,  and  he 
prays  that  the  Holy  Spirit  may  come  upon  him 
so  that  he  may  write  out  again  the  things  that 
were  in  the  law.  He  is  instructed  to  go  into 
seclusion  for  forty  days,  taking  many  tablets 
and  five  good  scribes.  Then  after  drinking  from 
a  mystic  cup,  he  spends  the  days  dictating  to 
the  scribes  some  ninety-four  books,  the  first 
twenty-four  of  which  he  is  to  publish,  and  the 
other  seventy  to  reserve  as  occult  books  which 
will  be  shown  only  to  the  wise.  This  story  had 
immense  popularity  in  the  Christian  church, 
but  its  interest  to  us  is  that  it  testifies  to  the 
fact  that  there  was  a  collection  of  twenty-four 
writings  recognized  as  having  authority  and  as 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


such  in  public  religious  use,  in  contradistinction 
to  other  writings  which,  while  equally  religious, 
were  not  considered  proper  for  such  public  use. 
The  number  twenty-four  is  interesting,  as  it  is 
the  number  of  the  books  in  the  Hebrew  Bible 
as  against  the  twenty-two  of  Josephus. 

L.  The  Rabbinical  Tradition. — The  Mishnah 
of  the  two  Talmuds  might  be  expected  to  con- 
tain the  rabbinical  tradition  concerning  their 
canon  of  scripture,  but  though  the  Mishnah  was 
assembled  by  R.  Yehuda  Hannasi  at  the  end  of 
the  second  century  A.D.  (between  180  and  200) , 
we  can  never  be  sure  that  in  any  given  passage 
there  has  not  been  later  interpolation,  so  that 
its  witness  to  the  canon  can  be  consulted  only 
under  reserves.  In  the  Mishnah  there  are  quota- 
tions from  every  book  of  the  Hebrew  Bible  save 
Nehemiah,  Daniel,  Obadiah,  Nahum,  Habak- 
kuk,  and  Zephaniah.  The  tripartite  division  of 
the  writings  is  clearly  recognized,  though  all 
parts  are  equally  scripture.  The  extent  of  the 
collection,  however,  was  not  decided,  for  there 
was  still  discussion  as  to  whether  certain  writ- 
ings should  be  included  or  rejected,  though  the 
Mishnah  itself,  while  it  records  the  discussion, 
is  satisfied  that  the  disputed  books  are  true 
scripture.  From  the  Gemara  we  gather  that  in 
some  quarters  the  discussion  regarding  certain 
books  was  still  dragging  on  in  the  fourth 
century. 

In  the  classical  passage  Yadayim  3:5  there  is 
evidence  of  a  dispute  over  the  inclusion  of  Ec- 
clesiastes  and  Song  of  Songs  in  the  list  of 
accepted  books,  and  from  the  Gemara  we  learn 
that  some  did  not  admit  Proverbs,  Esther,  Ezek- 
iel,  and  Ruth,  though  the  Mishnah  includes 
them  all.  Whether  the  rabbis  also  included  any 
of  the  books  in  the  wider  list  of  the  Hellenistic 
Bible  is  both  affirmed  and  denied.  Ben  Sirach 
certainly  seems  to  be  quoted  as  scripture  in 
Erubin  65a  and  Baba  Kamma  926,  and  the 
very  violence  of  Akiba's  language  against  Ben 
Sirach  in  Yer.  Sanh.  X.  28fl  shows  that  many  in 
his  day  must  have  been  using  it  as  if  it  were 
accepted  scripture.  In  Origen's  time  the  book 
of  Baruch  was  also  apparently  recognized,  at 
least  in  some  rabbinical  circles,  for  he  includes 
it  in  his  list  of  the  twenty-two  books  recognized 
as  making  up  the  Hebrew  Bible.  In  Baba 
Bathra  I4b  we  have  a  Baraita  which  may  date 
from  as  early  as  A.D.  180,  and  which,  besides 
taking  for  granted  in  all  its  discussion  the 
tripartite  division  into  Law,  Prophets,  and 
Hagiographa,  contains  statements  concerning 
the  order  of  the  books  in  these  latter  groups: 

Our  masters  teach — the  order  of  the  Prophets  is 
this:  Joshua,  Judges,  Samuel,  Kings,  Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel,  Isaiah,  the  Twelve,  . . .  and  the  order  of  the 
Hagiographa  is  this:  Ruth,  the  book  of  Psalms,  Job 


and  Proverbs,  Ecclesiastes,  Song  of  Songs,  Lamenta- 
tions, Daniel  and  the  roll  of  Esther,  Ezra  and 
Chronicles. 

Here  we  have  the  order  of  our  Hebrew  Bible, 
and  as  the  early  form  of  these  writings  would 
have  been  on  individual  rolls  where  the  order 
is  of  no  importance,  this  Baraita  suggests  the 
beginning  of  arrangements  in  codex  form,  or 
at  least  of  large  rolls,  where  writings  necessarily 
have  to  be  placed  in  a  certain  order. 

In  the  rabbinical  discussions  over  the  dis- 
puted books  there  is  constant  recurrence  of  the 
phrase  "defiling  the  hands."  The  handling  of 
books  recognized  as  authoritative  scripture 
causes  such  defilement,  whereas  that  of  other 
religious  writings  does  not  cause  it.  There  has 
been  much  discussion  concerning  the  meaning 
of  this  phrase,  but  the  essential  point  is  that  it 
implies  a  recognition  of  special  sanctity  for 
some  writings  but  not  for  others,  and  such 
special  sanctity  is  a  mark  of  canonicity.  Yadayim 
3:5  indicates  the  date  at  which  the  decision 
was  made  regarding  what  writings  possessed  this 
mark  and  what  writings  did  not: 

R,  Simeon  b.  Azzai  [ca.  A.D.  100]  said,  I  have  heard 
a  tradition  from  the  seventy-two  elders,  on  the  day 
when  they  made  R.  Eleazar  b.  Azariah  head  of  the 
college,  that  the  Song  of  Songs  and  Ecclesiastes  both 
defile  the  hands. 

The  reference  is  to  the  temporary  deposition  of 
Gamaliel  II  from  the  headship  of  the  "college," 
when  Eleazar  b.  Azariah  was  elected  for  a  time 
to  his  place — an  event  that  is  often  referred  to 
as  "that  day."  The  "college"  was  sitting  at  the 
time  at  Jabneh  (Jamnia) ,  and  it  seems  to  have 
been  under  the  brief  presidency  of  Eleazar  when 
the  influence  of  Akiba  and  Joshua  was  so 
strong  that  many  hitherto  undecided  points 
were  settled.  The  reference  above  suggests  that 
this  question  of  the  disputed  books  came  up  at 
that  time  and  a  decision  was  reached  concerning 
the  extent  of  the  canon.  This  decision  finally 
prevailed  in  spite  of  some  rumblings  of  dissent 
which  were  still  heard  occasionally  in  later 
years.  This  decision  is  usually  dated  as  about 
A.D.  90,  but  may  have  been  nearer  A.D.  100,  and 
we  must  remember  that  it  was  only  the  decision 
of  an  "academy"  and  not  an  official  ratification 
such  as  that  of  a  "council,"  even  though  the 
weight  of  authority  of  the  "academy"  gained 
general  acceptance  for  it. 

M.  The  Apostolic  Fathers. — We  have  no 
scripture  lists  recorded  in  any  of  the  works  of 
the  Apostolic  Fathers,  but  from  their  writings 
we  can  perhaps  estimate  the  extent  of  their 
canon.  They  quote  from  or  refer  to  as  scrip- 
ture: Genesis,  Exodus,  Leviticus,  Numbers, 
Deuteronomy,  Joshua,  Judges,  I,  II,  III,  IV 


39 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


Kings,  I,  II  Paralipomena,  Esther,  Job,  Psalms, 
Proverbs,  Ecclesiastes,  Song  of  Songs,  Isaiah, 
Jeremiah,  Ezekiel,  Daniel,  Hosea,  Joel,  Amos, 
Jonah,  Habakkuk,  Zephaniah,  Zechariah,  Mala- 
chi,  II  Maccabees,  Judith,  Tobit,  Sirach,  Wis- 
dom of  Solomon,  II  Esdras  (IV  Ezra),  and 
Enoch.  There  are  no  quotations  from  Ruth, 
Ezra-Nehemiah,  Lamentations,  Obadiah,  Micah, 
or  Haggai,  nor  are  there  any  from  Baruch  or 
I  Maccabees.  It  is  at  least  notable  that  out  of 
eight  Old  Testament  books  from  which  there  is 
no  quotation,  six  are  also  books  not  quoted  in 
the  New  Testament.  The  extra  books  of  the 
Hellenistic  Bible,  even  Enoch,  are  used  with 
apparently  no  feeling  that  they  are  not  genuine 
scripture,  and  in  this  also  the  Apostolic  Fathers 
are  in  harmony  with  the  New  Testament. 

N.  Melito  of  Sardis  (ca.  170). — It  is  somewhat 
curious  that  the  Christian  bishop  of  an  impor- 
tant city  like  Sardis,  in  the  second  half  of  the 
second  century,  did  not  know  the  extent  of  the 
Jewish  canon  and  undertook  a  journey  to  the 
East  to  discover  the  truth  of  the  matter.  Pos- 
sibly the  explanation  is  that  he  used  the  Hel- 
lenistic Bible  but  was  conscious  of  Jewish  criti- 
cism directed  against  it  and  wished  to  learn 
what  range  of  scripture  the  rabbis  accepted. 
The  result  of  his  inquiry  is  recorded  by  Eusebius 
(Church  History  IV.  26.  14)  in  a  list  commonly 
known  as  the  Canon  of  Melito: 

When,  therefore,  I  went  to  the  East,  and  came  as 
far  as  the  place  where  these  things  were  proclaimed 
and  done,  I  accurately  ascertained  the  books  of  the 
Old  Testament,  and  send  them  to  thee  here  below. 
The  names  are  as  follows:  Of  Moses,  five  books — 
Genesis,  Exodus,  Numbers,  Leviticus,  Deuteron- 
omy. Jesus  Nave,  Judges,  Ruth.  Four  of  Kings.  Two 
of  Paralipomena.  Psalms  of  David.  Proverbs  of 
Solomon  and  the  Wisdom,  Ecclesiastes,  Song  of 
Songs,  Job.  Of  Prophets,  Isaiah,  Jeremiah.  Of  the 
Twelve  Prophets  one  book,  Daniel,  Ezekiel,  Esdras. 
From  these  I  have,  therefore,  made  the  selections 
which  I  have  divided  into  six  books. 

This  order  is  strange  in  that  it  agrees  neither 
with  the  Hebrew  nor  with  the  Septuagint 
though  it  is  closer  to  the  Hellenistic  usage.  That 
Melito  should  put  the  disputed  Ezekiel  along 
with  Daniel,  and  omit  Esther  altogether,  sug- 
gests that  he  obtained  his  list  from  circles  aware 
of  the  disputed  position  of  these  books,  though 
he  does  not  say  that  he  received  it  from  Jews, 
and  he  may  have  been  quoting  only  from  an 
Antiochene  source. 

O.  Origen  (185-254). — Origen's  witness  is  of 
peculiar  significance  because  he  was  instructed 
by  Jewish  teachers.  That  scripture  was  recog- 
nized as  a  body  of  authoritative  religious  writ- 
ing to  be  used  as  a  regula  is  apparent  through- 
out his  writings,  and  the  extent  of  this  body  of 


authoritative  scripture  recognized  by  him  is 
quoted  by  Eusebius  Church  History  VI.  25.  2 
from  his  exposition  of  Ps.  1,  where,  after  remark- 
ing that  the  writings  of  the  Hebrew  canon  are 
twenty-two  according  to  the  number  of  letters 
in  their  alphabet,  Origen  says: 

These  twenty-two  books,  according  to  the  He- 
brews, are  as  follows:  that  which  is  called  Genesis, 
but  by  the  Hebrews,  from  the  beginning  of  the 
book,  Bresith,  which  means  "in  the  beginning." 
Exodus,  Welesmoth,  which  means,  "these  are  the 
names."  Leviticus,  Waikra,  "and  he  called."  Num- 
bers, Anmesphekodeim.  Deuteronomy,  Elle  adde- 
barim,  that  is,  "these  are  the  words."  Jesus  the  son 
of  Nave,  in  Hebrew,  Joshua  ben  Nun.  Judges  and 
Ruth  in  one  book,  with  the  Hebrews,  which  they 
call  Sophetim.  Of  Kings:  the  First  and  Second,  one 
book,  with  them  called  Samuel,  "the  called  of  God." 
The  Third  and  Fourth  of  Kings,  also  in  one  book 
with  them,  and  called,  Wahammelech  Dabid,  which 
means  "and  King  David."  The  First  and  Second 
Book  of  the  Paralipomena,  contained  in  one  volume 
with  them,  and  called  Dibre  Hamaim,  which  means 
the  words,  i.e.  "the  records  of  days."  The  First  and 
Second  of  Esdras,  in  one,  called  Ezra,  that  is,  "an 
assistant."  The  Book  of  Psalms,  Sepher  Tehillim. 
The  Proverbs  of  Solomon,  Misloth.  Ecclesiastes, 
Coheleth.  The  Song  of  Songs,  Sir  Hasirim.  Isaiah, 
lesaia.  Jeremiah,  with  the  Lamentations  and  his 
Epistle,  in  one,  Jeremiah.  Daniel,  Daniel.  Ezekiel, 
Jeezkel.  Job,  Job.  Esther,  also  with  the  Hebrews, 
Esther.  Besides  these  there  are  also  the  Maccabees, 
which  are  inscribed  "Sarbeth  sarbane  el." 

His  order  is  that  of  the  Hellenistic  Bible,  but 
obviously  he  had  before  him  the  Hebrew  text. 
He  says  the  number  is  twenty-two,  but  he 
enumerates  only  twenty-one,  so  that  the  omis- 
sion of  the  Twelve  is  probably  a  scribal  error. 
Baruch  seems  to  have  been  included  with  Jere- 
miah, and  it  is  perhaps  significant  that  Esther 
is  mentioned  last  of  all.  Maccabees  is  separated 
from  the  list  but  why  it  should  be  mentioned 
at  all  is  strange. 

P.  Athanasius  (365).— In  the  Festal  Epistles 
for  the  year  365  Athanasius  gives  an  enumera- 
tion of  the  canonical  books  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment: 

According  to  their  order  these  are  the  names.  First 
Genesis,  then  Exodus,  Leviticus,  Numbers,  Deuter- 
onomy. These  are  followed  by  Joshua  son  of  Nave, 
Judges  and  then  Ruth.  Afterwards  four  books  of  the 
Kingdoms,  of  which  they  make  the  first  two  one 
book,  and  the  third  and  fourth  one  book.  After 
them  Paralipomenon,  two  books  as  one.  Then 
Esdras,  first  and  second  as  one,  likewise.  After  this 
the  Psalms,  then  Proverbs,  Ecclesiastes,  Song  of 
Songs.  Then  Job  and  afterwards  Prophets,  of  whom 
Twelve  make  up  one  book,  and  besides  Isaiah,  Jere- 
miah, with  which  are  Baruch,  Lamentations  and  an 
Epistle.  Then  Ezekiel  and  Daniel.  So  far  the  books 
of  the  Old  Testament. 


40 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


This  list  is  clearly  dependent  on  the  Hellenistic 
Bible,  though  it  enumerates  only  the  writings 
of  the  Hebrew  Bible,  save  that,  like  Origen, 
it  knows  Baruch  as  going  with  Jeremiah.  Again 
we  find  Esther  missing,  and  this  time  it  can 
be  no  oversight,  for  a  little  later  on  Athanasius 
gives  another  list  of  books  which  it  is  edifying 
to  read,  but  which  are  not  authoritative,  that 
is,  not  canonical,  and  among  these  are  Wisdom 
of  Solomon,  Sirach,  Esther,  Judith,  and  Tobit. 
Q.  Jerome  (329-420).-— The  place  of  honor  as 
an  authority  on  scripture  was  held  in  the  Latin- 
speaking  church  by  Jerome  who,  like  Origen, 
had  Jewish  teachers.  In  his  commentary  on 
Ecclesiastes  he  shows  his  awareness  of  the  fact 
that  the  position  of  this  book  was  disputed, 
though  he  records  no  objections  to  Esther.  In 
his  preface  to  Daniel  he  writes: 

I  call  attention  to  this,  that,  among  the  Hebrews, 
Daniel  is  not  reckoned  with  the  Prophets,  but  with 
those  who  wrote  the  Hagiographa.  For  all  Scripture 
is  by  them  divided  into  three  portions,  the  Law,  the 
Prophets,  and  the  Hagiographa,  that  is,  into  five, 
and  eight,  and  eleven  books. 

This  is  precisely  the  division  of  the  Hebrew 
Bible  as  we  have  it.  Then  in  his  Prologus 
Galeatus  prefaced  to  the  books  of  Samuel-Kings 
he  gives  his  famous  catalogue: 

First  among  them  is  a  book  called  Bresith  which  we 
call  Genesis.  Second,  Hellesmoth,  which  is  called 
Exodus.  Third,  Vaiecra,  that  is,  Leviticus.  Fourth 
Vaiedabber,  which  we  name  Numbers.  Fifth,  Ad- 
dabarim,  which  signifies  Deuteronomy.  These  are 
the  five  books  of  Moses  which  are  properly  called 
the  Torah.  They  make  a  second  order  of  the 
Prophets,  and  begin  with  Hiesu,  son  of  Nave,  who 
among  them  is  called  Josue  ben  Nun.  Then  they 
add  Sophtim,  that  is,  book  of  Judges,  and  with  that 
they  include  Ruth,  because  it  narrates  a  history  that 
took  place  in  the  days  of  the  Judges.  Third  follows 
Samuel,  which  we  say  to  be  the  first  and  second 
books  of  Kings.  Fourth  Malachimf  that  is,  Kings, 
which  continue  the  third  and  fourth  books  of 
Kings.  .  .  .  Fifth,  Esaias.  Sixth,  Hieremias.  Seventh, 
Htezecihel.  Eighth,  the  book  of  the  Twelve  Proph- 
ets, which  among  them  is  called  Thare-asar.  The 
third  order  has  the  Hagiographa.  And  first  it  be- 
gins with  the  book  of  Job.  Second,  David,  compris- 
ing five  groups  of  Psalms  in  one  volume.  Third  is 
Solomon,  having  three  books,  Proverbs,  which  they 
call  Masaloth,  and  Ecclesiastes,  that  is,  Accoeleth, 
and  Song  of  Songs,  which  is  named  Sir-assirim.  The 
sixth  is  Daniel;  the  seventh,  Dabre-iamim,  that  is, 
words  of  the  days,  but  which  we  can  more  signifi- 
cantly call  the  chronicles  of  all  divine  history,  and 
which  among  us  is  known  as  the  first  and  second 
of  Paralipomenon.  The  eighth  is  Ezras,  which,  as 
among  the  Greeks  and  Latins  is  divided  into  two 
books.  Ninth,  Esther.  Thus  the  books  of  the  Old 
Testament  make  up  twenty-two  books — five  of 
Moses,  eight  of  Prophets,  and  nine  of  Hagiographa. 


Nevertheless  not  a  few  reckon  Ruth  and  Lamenta- 
tions among  the  Hagiographa,  and  consider  these 
two  as  being  outside  the  number,  making  up  the 
number  of  books  to  twenty-four. 

Here  again  we  have  the  tripartite  division  rec- 
ognized as  fundamental,  but  the  arrangement  o! 
the  books  is  influenced  by  that  of  the  Hel- 
lenistic Bible,  and  again  Esther  comes  last. 
Later  on  Jerome  mentions  Wisdom  of  Solomon, 
Sirach,  Judith,  Tobit,  and  I  and  II  Maccabees, 
but  acknowledges  that  they  are  not  in  the 
canon.  He  freely  uses  the  word  canon,  so  that 
we  are  quite  sure  that  his  lists  represent  his 
understanding  of  what  was  in  his  day  regarded 
as  canonical  in  the  strict  sense. 

R.  The  Eastern  Churches. — The  churches  of 
Eastern  Christendom  were  as  a  rule  much  closer 
to  Jewish  communities  than  the  Greek-speaking 
or  the  Latin-speaking  churches,  but  in  this 
matter  of  the  canon  they  have  preserved  con- 
siderable independence  as  to  the  extent  of 
canonical  scripture,  though  they  differ  not  at 
all  from  either  the  Jews  or  the  churches  of 
Western  Christendom  regarding  the  authority 
of  canonical  scripture  as  a  regula. 

1.  The  SyriaC'Spedking  Church. — Some  Syriac- 
speaking  groups  which  remained  in  communion 
with  Constantinople  accepted  the  Septuagint 
as  used  in  the  Byzantine  church,  but  those 
which  stood  independent,  whether  Monophysite 
or  Nestorian,  accepted  the  Peshitta  as  their 
official  scripture  version.  The  Peshitta  repre- 
sents a  revision  of  earlier  versions  into  Syriac, 
and  may  be  dated  in  the  fourth  century.  Origi- 
nally it  would  seem  to  have  had  only  the  books 
of  the  Hebrew  Bible,  for  Isho'dad  of  Merv  in 
his  commentaries  knows  that  the  number  of 
books  in  the  Old  Testament  must  be  twenty- 
two,  and  two  authors  of  the  latter  part  of  the 
fourth  century,  Aphraates  and  Ephraem  Syrus, 
though  they  know  the  extra  books,  do  not 
quote  from  them  or  comment  on  them  as  they 
do  in  the  case  of  the  others.  Early  in  the  fifth 
century  Theodore  of  Mopsuestia — who,  though 
himself  Greek-speaking,  was  regarded  especially 
by  the  Nestorians  as  the  great  expositor  of 
scripture — divided  scripture  into  three  classes, 
books  perfectae  auctoritatis,  books  mediae  auc 
toritatis,  books  nullius  auctoritatis.  The  latter 
included  numerous  works  of  piety  which  circu- 
lated in  the  Eastern  churches,  but  in  the  second 
we  find  Job,  Tobit,  I  Esdras,  Judith,  Esther, 
Wisdom  of  Solomon,  II  Maccabees,  Song  of 
Songs,  Chronicles,  and  Ezra-Nehemiah.  Chroni- 
cles, indeed,  seems  to  have  been  omitted  from 
the  original  Peshitta,  and  in  the  Syrian  Masorah 
there  are  no  Masoretic  notes  for  Chronicles  or 
Ezra-Nehemiah,  nor  in  the  Nestorian  Bibles 
for  Esther.  There  is  considerable  variety  in  the 


41 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


Syriac  manuscripts,  both  Jacobite  and  Nes- 
torian,  as  to  the  extra  books  that  are  included. 
As  late  as  the  end  of  the  thirteenth  century,  in 
the  Nomocanon  of  Bar-Hebraeus,  we  have  a 
quotation  from  Canon  81  of  the  Canons  of  the 
Apostles  regarding  the  scripture  which  all  clergy 
and  laymen  ought  to  have,  and  the  list  runs  for 
the  Old  Testament  as  follows: 

Five  books  of  Moses,  Joshua,  Judges,  Ruth,  Judith, 
four  books  of  Kings,  two  of  Chronicles,  two  of 
Ezra,  Esther,  Job,  David,  five  of  Solomon,  and 
sixteen  Prophets.  Of  books  without  there  is  to  be 
Bar  Sira  for  the  teaching  of  the  young. 

2.  The  Armenian  Church.— There  is  quite  a 
variety  of  lists  of  scripture  to  be  found  in 
Armenian  ecclesiastical  literature,  and  the  old- 
est manuscripts  differ  considerably  as  to  the 
books  which  they  contain.  We  have,  however,  a 
synodal  statement  on  the  extent  of  the  canon 
recognized  in  the  Armenian  church,  which  per- 
haps ought  to  be  taken  as  the  norm  rather  than 
the  richer  variety  to  be  found  in  the  manu- 
scripts or  in  later  lists.  At  the  Synod  of  Partav 
in  768  we  find  in  Canon  22: 

As  holy  books  of  the  Old  Testament  shall  be 
reckoned— Genesis,  Exodus,  Leviticus,  Numbers, 
Deuteronomy,  Joshua,  Judges,  Ruth,  four  books  of 
Kings,  two  books  of  Paralipomenon,  two  books  of 
Esdras,  Tobit,  Judith,  Esther,  Maccabees,  four 
books  of  Solomon  (that  is,  Proverbs,  Ecclesiastes, 
Wisdom  and  Canticles) ,  Job,  Psalms  of  David,  the 
Twelve  Prophets,  Isaiah,  Jeremiah  with  Baruch, 
Ezekiel,  Daniel,  and  the  Wisdom  of  Sirach, 

3.  The  Abyssinian  Church.— An  even  greater 
variety  of  books  is  to  be  found  in  the  early 
biblical  manuscripts  in  Ethiopia  and  the  Abys- 
sinian church  has  a  wider  range  of  scripture 
than  any  other  Eastern  church.  Fundamentally 
its  version  depends  on  the  Septuagint,  but  other 
influences  have  come  in  with  later  revisions. 
There  seems  to  have  been  no  authoritative 
decision  in  this  church  as  to  the  extent  of  its 
canon,  but  the  selections  of  the  scribes  of  the 
biblical  manuscripts  seem  to  have  been  always 
from  the  following  list: 

Eight  books  of  the  Octateuch;  Kufale  or  little 
Genesis,  one  book;  five  books  of  Kings  and  Chron- 
icles; Job;  five  books  of  Solomon;  four  books  of 
greater  Prophets;  twelve  books  of  minor  Prophets; 
two  books  of  Ezra;  one  book  of  Maccabees;  Tobit; 
Judith;  Asenath;  Esther;  Ecclesiasticus;  the  Psalter; 
Uzziah;  Enoch;  Baruch;  third  (or  fourth)  Ezra. 

4*  The  Coptic  Church. — We  have  no  early 
lists  of  the  books  received  as  canonical  in  the 
Coptic  church,  but  from  the  Nomocanon  of  the 
thirteenth-century  writer  Ibn  aPAssal  it  is 


clear  that  the  Copts  accepted  the  authority  o£ 
the  above-mentioned  Canons  of  the  Apostles. 
The  text  of  the  relevant  canon  therefrom  differs 
somewhat  in  the  various  Coptic  and  Arabic 
sources  available  to  us,  but  a  comparison  of 
them  gives  us  the  following  list  as  that  gener- 
ally accepted  in  the  Coptic  church: 

Pentateuch,  five  books;  Joshua;  Judges  with  Ruth; 
four  books  of  Kings;  two  books  of  Paralipomena; 
Ezra  and  Nehemiah;  Job;  the  Psalms;  Proverbs; 
Ecclesiastes;  Song  of  Songs;  the  twelve  minor 
Prophets;  the  four  greater  Prophets  (i.e.,  Isaiah, 
Jeremiah,  Ezekiel,  Daniel) ;  Wisdom;  Judith;  Tobit; 
Esther;  three  books  of  Maccabees;  Ecclesiasticus. 

This  list  is  derived  from  the  Hellenistic  Bible, 
whose  wider  range  of  writings,  as  might  have 
been  expected,  has  in  general  prevailed  in  the 
various  areas  that  were  formerly  under  the 
control  of  the  Byzantine  church.  There  has 
been  at  times  discussion,  e.g.,  in  the  Russian 
church,  regarding  the  authority  and  canonicity 
of  the  so-called  Deuterocanonical  writings,  and 
the  various  lists  of  books  of  scripture  in  the 
early  Byzantine  writers  differ  considerably,  but 
the  prevailing  usage  in  the  Greek  and  Russian 
churches  has  been  to  accept  the  Hellenistic 
Bible,  and  it  was  one  form  of  the  Hellenistic 
Bible  that  was  formally  pronounced  as  canon- 
ical in  the  Roman  Catholic  Church. 

F.  Conclusion 

The  result  of  examining  these  various  wit- 
nesses may  be  summarily  stated. 

A.  Preparation  for  Canonization. — There  was 
a  preparation  for  canonization  by  a  progressive 
assembling  of  religious  writings  in  which  the 
community  felt  that  the  voice  of  religious 
authority  could  be  heard,  and  this  assembling 
among  the  Jews  crystallized  in  three  stages: 

(a)  The  Law,  which  at  first  meant  merely 
the  codes  embodying  the  social  and  religious 
rules  to  be  obeyed  by  the  community,  came  to 
include  the  narratives  of  the  early  history  and 
antiquities  of  the  people,  which  were  felt  to  be 
necessary  to  make  the  codes  meaningful,  and 
the  whole  was  called  Torah,  or  instruction. 
This  later  came  to  be  divided  into  five  sections, 
giving  us  the  Pentateuch.  That  the  Law  was 
recognized  as  an  entity,  though  not  necessarily 
as  a  canonized  entity,  earlier  than  the  other 
writings,  is  suggested  by  the  facts  (i)  that  the 
Samaritans  took  over  only  the  Law;  (ii)  that  the 
word  Torah  could  later  be  used  to  cover  all 
scripture;  (iii)  that  among  the  Jews  it  has  a 
place  of  unique  regard;  (iv)  that  it  seems  always 
to  have  been  given  first  attention  in  the  various 
translations.  Some  of  the  material  now  in  our 
Pentateuch  may  have  come  to  be  regarded  as 
sacred  and  authoritative  at  a  fairly  early  date, 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


but  the  Septuagint  shows  that  some  little  addi- 
tions were  made  to  the  Hebrew  text  later  than 
the  date  of  its  translation  into  Greek,  about 
250  B.C.,  so  that  its  text  could  not  have  been 
sacrosanct  then.  The  Mishnah,  however,  about 
A.D.  200  assumes  the  present  Hebrew  text  as 
something  given.  Much  of  the  halakah  therein 
is  based  on  a  text  substantially  that  o£  our 
Pentateuch,  so  that  we  are  driven  back  to 
about  200  B.C.  as  the  date  when  the  text  must 
have  been  for  all  practical  purposes  fixed.  This 
date  is  confirmed  by  the  fact  that  the  New 
Testament  regards  the  Law  as  something  known 
as  a  definite  regula  long  held  to  be  authorita- 
tive, no  jot  or  tittle  of  which  could  be  lightly 
changed.  The  end  of  the  third  century  B.C., 
therefore,  may  be  considered  to  be  the  date  of 
the  fixing  of  the  text  of  the  Pentateuch. 

(6)  The  Prophets  is  the  group  of  documents 
including  the  writings  of  the  prophets  them- 
selves and  the  history  within  whose  framework 
the  prophets  lived  and  labored.  We  have  no 
means  of  telling  when  the  writings  of  this  sec- 
ond group  began  to  form  into  a  collection. 
The  citation  of  earlier  prophets  by  later  ones 
is  evidence  that  there  were  little  collections  in 
circulation  earlier  than  the  final  collection. 
Ben  Sirach  certainly  knew  of  scripture  writings 
other  than  the  Law  in  circulation  about  200  B.C., 
and  his  grandson  knew  of  a  collection  named 
"Prophets."  The  books  of  Maccabees  know  of 
a  collection  of  "Prophets"  besides  the  Law,  and 
in  the  New  Testament  we  have  evidence  of  the 
custom  of  public  reading  of  sections  from  the 
Prophets  at  synagogue  services.  This,  however, 
does  not  necessarily  presuppose  the  existence 
of  a  fixed  body  of  writings  from  which  nothing 
could  be  subtracted  nor  anything  added.  By  the 
time  of  Josephus,  however,  the  limits  of  such 
a  collection  had  been  set  and  a  theory  elabo- 
rated as  to  when  true  prophecy  had  come  to  an 
end.  If  we  have  to  date  Zech.  12-14  in  135  B.C., 
the  collection  could  not  have  reached  its  final 
form  before  that  date,  and  yet  the  semiofficial 
character  of  the  undertaking  evident  in  the 
Septuagint  version  of  the  Prophets  would  point 
to  the  existence  of  some  generally  recognized 
body  of  prophetic  writings  when  that  transla- 
tion was  made. 

(c)  The  Hagiographa  is  a  collection  of  mis- 
cellaneous writings,  some  of  which  may  have 
begun  to  win  recognition  as  early  as  parts  of 
the  prophetic  collection.  The  New  Testament 
quotes  the  Psalms  as  scripture,  Ben  Sirach 
knows  of  a  collection  besides  the  Law  and  the 
Prophets,  and  his  grandson  actually  mentions 
such  a  group.  So  also  the  books  of  Maccabees 
refer  to  religious  books  in  circulation  which  are 
neither  Law  nor  Prophets.  Josephus  knows  a 
fixed  list  of  them.  That  this  collection  grew 


from  small  beginnings  is  clear.  The  Psalter  is 
made  up  of  smaller  collections,  and  several 
documents  have  gone  into  the  making  of  Prov- 
erbs. Some  of  this  material  may  be  dated  as 
early  as  the  sixth  century  B.C.,  but  much  of  it  is 
later,  coming  from  a  time  when  there  was  a 
general  feeling  that  the  creative  period  was 
past,  so  that  these  books  are  for  the  most  part 
(i)  paraphrase  or  elucidation  or  continuation 
of  older  texts,  (ii)  works  put  forth  in  the  name 
of  some  great  figure  of  the  past,  (iii)  midrashim 
on  some  particular  events  in  the  past  history  of 
the  people. 

B.  Official  Canonization. — Older  writers  on 
the  canon  frequently  speak  of  three  separate 
canonizations,  corresponding  to  the  three  stages 
in  the  collection  of  the  writings,  but  we  have 
no  actual  evidence  that  any  one  of  these  three 
parts  was  ever  regarded  as  alone  canonical.  As 
collections,  they  were  formed  and  limited  at 
different  times,  and  one  part  may  have  come 
to  have  a  reputation  as  authoritative  earlier 
than  others,  but  the  official  pronouncing  of 
them  as  canonical  was  a  pronouncement  that 
covered  all  three  parts.  Josephus  knows  that  the 
officially  received  canon  was   a   collection   of 
twenty-two  books,  a  figure  which  occurs  again 
in  Origen  and  is  known  to  Jerome.  II  Esdras 
(IV  Ezra)    says  it  was  of  twenty-four  books, 
which  is  the  rabbinical  number  and  the  number 
given  by  Jerome  in  his  preface  to  Daniel;  the 
difference,  Jerome  says,  depending  on  counting 
or  not  counting  Ruth  and  Lamentations  as 
separate.  This  official  pronouncement  was  made 
at  the  Assembly  at  Jamnia,  although  it  was  not 
universally  accepted. 

C.  Resistance  to  Official  Canonization. — The 
Hellenistic   Bible  continued  to  perpetuate  a 
larger  collection,  and  the  various  translations 
from  the  Septuagint — the  Coptic,  the  Arme- 
nian,  the    Ethiopic — carried   yet  further   this 
larger  collection.  On  the  other  hand,  we  find 
that  some  books  admitted  in  the  Jewish  tradi- 
tion  (twenty-two  or  twenty-four)   were  not  in- 
cluded   elsewhere,    for   example,    Esther    and 
Chronicles  in  the  earlier  Syriac  tradition.  Even 
among  the  Jews,  quite  apart  from  the  echoes  in 
the  Talmud  of  discussions  over  the  standing  of 
certain  books,  we  know  from  Yadayim  4:6  that 
the  Sadducees  did  not  accept  without  demur  this 
limitation  of  the  books,  and  we  are  told  that 
the  Essenes  had  books  of  their  own  which  the 
postulant  for  admission  to  their  sect  had  to 
swear  to  preserve. 

When  we  inquire  more  carefully  into  the 
canonization  of  the  twenty-two  or  twenty-four 
books  among  the  Jews,  we  discover  the  follow- 
ing facts: 

(a)   It  bears  traces  of  the  handiwork  of  the 
scribes,  the  Sopherim.  The  whole  discussion  re- 


43 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


garding  the  "defiling  of  hands"  in  connection 
with  the  scrolls  of  the  scriptures,  whether  they 
defiled  when  written  in  Aramaic  or  only  when 
in  Hebrew,  whether  the  spaces  above  and  below 
the  letters  defile,  or  the  erasures,  or  the  blanks 
at  the  end,  all  these  things  show  the  preoccupa- 
tion of  the  Sopherim,  and  it  was  apparently 
their  work  that  led  to  official  action  regarding 
sacred  scripture. 

(&)  It  was  a  Pharisaic  ordinance  and  regula- 
tion which  the  Sadducees  did  not  accept  with- 
out protest,  and  which  they  actually  accused  the 
Pharisees  of  inventing. 

(c)  It  originated  in  Palestine.  The  oft-sug- 
gested antithesis  between  the  Alexandrine  and 
the  Palestinian  canon  is  fictitious.  There  never 
were  two  canons.  In  New  Testament  times  we 
find  such  a  book  as  Enoch  in  use  both  in  Alex- 
andria and  in  Palestine.  In  Palestine  there 
came  about  a  definite  narrowing  of  the  range  of 
the  books  to  be  included  in  the  finally  fixed 
collection,  and  this  was  the  only  official  canon- 
ization of  the  books  of  the  Old  Testament. 

The  discussions  regarding  the  inclusion  or 
noninclusion  of  certain  books  show  that  the 
idea  of  a  canonization  of  a  limited  number  of 
books  must  have  been  in  the  minds  of  the  rabbis 
for  some  time.  That  it  was  not  a  settled  ques- 
tion in  130  B.C.  is  clear  from  the  prologue  of  the 
grandson  of  Ben  Sirach,  nor  could  it  have  been 
settled  in  114  B.C.  when  Lysimachus  of  Jerusa- 
lem translated  Esther  into  Greek,  for  had  there 
been  a  recognized  collection  he  would  hardly 
have  felt  at  liberty  to  add  to  that  book  the 
legendary  embellishments  we  find  there.  As  the 
question  of  the  disputed  books  divided  the 
schools  of  Hillel  and  Shammai,  it  must  have 
been  a  live  question  in  the  first  century  A.D., 
and  probably  was  so  fairly  early  in  that  century. 

When  we  ask  why  the  question  should  have 
arisen  in  an  acute  form  just  at  that  time,  we 
find  two  answers  given: 

(a)  When  men  felt  that  the  genuine  voice  of 
religious  authority  was  no  longer  to  be  heard,  it 
was  a  matter  of  some  importance  to  assemble 
those  writings  in  which  the  community  agreed 
it  had  been  heard.  This  feeling,  however,  had 
long  been  present  in  Israel,  and  there  must  have 
been  something  that  made  it  suddenly  a  matter 
of  urgency  to  settle  for  the  community  the  ques- 
tion of  canonicity.  One  theory  is  that  it  was  the 
rise  of  apocalyptic.  The  apocalyptic  books  with 
their  grandiose  visions  of  the  future  tended  to 
wean  men's  minds  from  the  past  in  which  the  re- 
ligious life  of  the  community  was  rooted,  and  in 
a  subtle  way  to  supersede  the  older  literature. 
The  law  had  been  given  through  Moses,  but 
these  books  went  behind  Moses  to  supposed 
writings  of  Enoch  and  Seth  and  Noah,  to  testa- 
ments of  Adam  and  Abraham,  which  as  such 


laid  claim  to  be  superior  books.  II  Esdras  (IV 
Ezra)  boldly  asked  that  the  seventy  extra  books 
that  Ezra  produced  be  kept  apart  and  delivered 
only  to  those  who  were  wise  among  the  com- 
munity, "for  in  [such  books]  is  the  spring  of 
understanding,  the  fountain  of  wisdom,  and 
the  stream  of  knowledge"  (II  Esdras  14:47). 
To  check  this  apocalyptic  the  Sopherim  elabo- 
rated a  theory  of  inspiration;  they  said  that 
inspiration  belonged  to  the  prophetic  office, 
which  began  with  Moses,  and  ended,  as  we 
learn  from  Josephus,  in  the  time  of  Artaxerxes 
Longimanus,  or  according  to  the  rabbinical 
writings,  in  the  time  of  Alexander  the  Great. 
Therefore  all  books  supposed  to  have  been 
written  before  Moses,  or  those  written  later 
than  the  period  of  the  prophets,  were  to  be 
excluded.  Thereafter  the  writings  which  were 
accepted  into  the  canon  gained  their  place 
only  because  they  were  supposed  to  have  been 
written  during  the  period  of  prophetic  activity. 
This  theory  excluded  Ben  Sirach  and  the  books 
of  Maccabees,  but  Maccabean  pieces  included 
in  the  Psalter  got  in  because  they  were  covered 
by  the  name  of  David.  Daniel  and  Job  were 
considered  to  be  of  prophetic  origin,  and  all 
that  was  ascribed  to  Isaiah  and  Zechariah  found 
a  place  in  the  collection,  however  much  later 
some  of  this  material  may  be.  Song  of  Songs, 
Proverbs,  and  Ecclesiastes  were  covered  by  the 
name  of  Solomon,  and  the  exclusion  of  Wisdom 
and  the  Psalms  of  Solomon,  which  also  bore  the 
name  of  Solomon,  can  be  explained  only  on 
the  ground  of  language,  since  Greek  was  known 
to  have  been  a  language  that  was  not  used  in 
the  prophetic  period.  Esther,  however,  being 
in  Hebrew,  was  considered  to  have  come  from 
that  period.  Lamentations  found  a  place  be- 
cause of  its  association  with  Jeremiah,  and 
Baruch  must  have  been  excluded  for  the  same 
reason  that  excluded  Wisdom  of  Solomon. 

(b)  The  other  theory  is  that  the  question 
assumed  so  acute  a  form  as  to  demand  immedi- 
ate resolving  at  that  particular  time,  because  of 
the  rise  and  circulation  of  a  body  of  Christian 
writings.  Just  as  the  necessity  of  excluding 
Gnostic  writings  led  to  the  formulation  of  a 
canon  of  the  New  Testament  books,  so  the  rise 
of  what  in  Jewish  eyes  was  the  Christian  heresy 
brought  about  a  Jewish  formulation  of  a  canon 
of  scripture  in  a  definite  attempt  to  exclude 
those  Christian  writings  which  were  exercising 
a  dangerous  fascination  for  many  Jews.  With 
the  attempt  to  exclude  these  books  came  the 
necessity  of  settling  on  a  standard  for  canonicity, 
and  by  the  selection  of  the  criterion  of  prophetic 
inspiration,  which  ceased  in  the  time  of  Artax- 
erxes, there  followed  automatically  the  exclu- 
sion of  such  books  as  Sirach,  Maccabees,  and 
so  forth,  and  of  course  the  new  Christian  books 


44 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


which  were  making  their  claim  to  be  inspired 
books  and  to  speak  with  the  same  note  of  reli- 
gious authority.  This  second  theory  would  seem 
to  be  supported  by  the  fact  that  the  earliest 
pronouncement  on  what  does  and  what  does 
not  defile  the  hands  specifically  mentions  the 
Gospels.  This  passage  is  the  Tosephta  Yadayim 
2:13: 

The  Gospels  and  the  books  of  the  Minin  do  not 
defile  the  hands.  The  books  of  Ben  Sira  and  all  the 
books  that  have  been  written  since  his  time  do  not 
defile  the  hands. 

With  this  may  be  associated  the  discussion  in 
Tosephta  Shabbath  12(14):5,  on  what  things 
may  legally  be  rescued  from  a  burning  building 
on  the  sabbath  day,  where  we  read  that  scrip- 
tures may  be  rescued  but  not  Gospels  or  the 
books  of  the  Minin  (i.e.,  heretics) ,  even  though 
they  contain  names  of  God.  It  has  been  pointed 
out  that  while  the  earliest  mention  of  an  ordi- 
nance against  Christian  and  heretical  books 
dates  from  between  A,D.  70  and  90,  it  is  in  the 
years  100  to  130  that  we  find  all  the  Jewish 
leaders  inveighing  violently  against  the  heretics 
and  their  books.  Suddenly,  in  the  second  half 
of  the  second  century,  polemic  against  the  Chris- 
tians abruptly  ceased,  so  that  when  the  Mishnah 
was  redacted  at  the  end  of  the  century,  it  in- 
cluded none  of  the  defensive  ordinances  against 
Christianity  such  as  are  in  the  Tosephtas  and 
Baraitas.  The  distinction  had  been  made  so 
clear  between  Jewish  scripture  and  Christian 
scripture  that  the  letter  had  become  of  little 
danger  to  the  Jewish  community,  and  thus  from 
now  on  we  hear  nothing  within  Judaism  con- 
cerning the  canon  of  scripture  save  some  echoes 
of  controversy  as  to  whether  some  of  the  books 
included  when  the  canon  was  defined  had  not 
better  have  been  left  out.  Christians  continued 


to  use  the  larger  collection,  but  when  Jewish 
revisions  of  the  Greek  were  made,  they  limited 
themselves  to  those  books  in  the  now  definitely 
fixed  Hebrew  canon. 

VI.  Selected  Bibliography 

BENTZEN,  AAGE.  Introduction  to  the  Old  Testament. 
Copenhagen:  G.  E.  C.  Gad,  1948.  Vol.  I,  pp.  20-41. 

BUDDE,  KARL.  Article,  "Canon,  Old  Testament,"  in 
T.  K.  Cheyne,  ed.,  Encyclopaedia  Biblica.  New 
York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1899.  Vol.  I,  pp.  649-74. 

BUHL,  FRANTS.  Canon  and  Text  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment, tr.  John  Macpherson.  Edinburgh:  T.  &  T. 
Clark,  1892. 

EISSFELDT,  OTTO.  Einleitung  in  das  Alte  Testament. 
Tubingen:  J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1934.  Pp.  614-30. 

MARGOLIS,  M.  L.  The  Hebrew  Scriptures  in  the 
Making.  Philadelphia:  Jewish  Publication  Society 
of  America,  1922. 

OSTBORN,  GUNNAR,  Cult  and  Canon:  A  Study  in  the 
Canonization  of  the  Old  Testament.  Uppsala: 
A.-B.  Lundequistska,  1951. 

PFEIFFER,  R.  H.  Introduction  to  the  Old  Testament. 
New  York:  Harper  &  Bros.,  1941.  Pp.  50-70. 

RYLE,  H.  E.  The  Canon  of  the  Old  Testament. 
2nd  ed.  London:  Macmillan  &  Co.,  1925. 

SMITH,  W.  ROBERTSON.  The  Old  Testament  in  the 
Jewish  Church.  2nd  ed.  rev.  New  York:  D.  Apple- 
ton  &  Co.,  1892. 

STRACK,  H.  L.  Article,  "Canon  of  Scripture,"  in  S.  M. 
Jackson,  ed.,  The  New  Schaff-Herzog  Encyclo- 
pedia. New  York:  Funk  8c  Wagnalls,  1908.  Vol.  II, 
pp.  388-93. 

WILDEBOER,  G.  The  Origin  of  the  Canon  of  the  Old 
Testament,  tr.  B.  W.  Bacon.  London:  Luzac  &  Co., 
1895. 

WOODS,  F.  H.  Article,  "Old  Testament  Canon,"  in 
James  Hastings,  ed.,  A  Dictionary  of  the  Bible. 
New  York:  Charles  Scribner's  Sons,  1900.  Vol.  Ill, 
pp.  604-16. 

ZEITLIN,  S.  An  Historical  Study  of  the  Canonization 
of  the  Hebrew  Scriptures.  Philadelphia:  Jewish 
Publication  Society  of  America,  1933. 


45 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS 
OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 

by  ARTHUR  JEFFERY 


I.  Primitive  Documents 
II.  The  Early  Collection 

III.  The  Completed  Collection 

A.  Textual  Markings 

B.  Verse  and  Sense  Divisions 

C.  Peculiarities  of  Orthography 

IV.  The  Masoretes 

A.  Statistical  Masorah 

B.  Exegetical  Masorah 

C.  Text-Critical  Masorah 
V.  The  Printed  Text 


Modern  English  versions  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment are  based  in  the  first  instance  on  the 
Masoretic  text  of  the  canonical  Hebrew  Scrip- 
ture (see  articles,  "The  Canon  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment," pp.  32-45,  and  "The  English  Bible," 
pp.  84-105) .  The  Masoretic  text  was  established 
from  the  fifth  to  the  tenth  centuries  of  the 
Christian  Era  by  several  generations  of  Jewish 
scholars,  most  of  whom  were  called  "Masoretes" 
(from  the  word  Masorah,  "tradition") . 

Of  none  of  the  documents  received  into  the 
canonical  collection  of  Hebrew  Scripture  do  we 
possess  the  original  autograph;  nor  do  we 
possess  the  original  text  of  the  collection  as  it 
was  written  out  at  the  time  of  its  acceptance 
as  canonical.  Thus  a  history  of  the  text  of  the 
Old  Testament,  however  we  may  divide  it  for 
convenience  of  study,  falls  chronologically  into 
three  periods:  (a)  the  history  of  the  text  of  the 
original  documents  before  the  time  of  their 
definite  acceptance  into  a  canonical  collection; 
(b)  the  history  of  the  text  of  this  canonical 
collection  till  the  time  of  its  receiving  a  fixed 
form  at  the  hands  of  the  Masoretes;  (c)  the 
history  of  the  Masoretic  text  from  the  date  of 
its  fixing  till  the  appearance  of  the  printed 
editions  we  now  use.  It  will  never  be  possible 
to  write  the  complete  history  of  the  text,  with 
all  the  changes  it  underwent  throughout  this 
long  period  of  transmission,  for  history  must 
be  based  on  evidence,  and  at  all  too  many  places 
in  our  survey  the  evidence  available  to  us  is 


VI.  The  Ancient  Versions 

A.  The  Samaritan  Pentateuch 

B.  The  Aramaic  Targums 

C.  The  Greek  Versions 

D.  The  Syriac  Versions 

E.  The  Latin  Versions 

F.  The  Coptic  Versions 

G.  The  Armenian  Version 
H.  The  Arabic  Versions 

J.  The  Ethiopic  Version 
K.  The  Georgian  Version 
L.  Conclusion 
VII.  Selected  Bibliography 

too  fragmentary  and  uncertain  to  permit  more 
than  conjectures. 

I.  Primitive  Documents 

Some  of  the  material  that  is  now  contained 
in  the  canonical  books  of  the  Old  Testament 
was  doubtless  handed  down  orally  from  gen- 
eration to  generation  for  a  considerable  time 
before  any  attempt  was  made  to  set  it  down  in 
writing.  In  the  case  of  other  religions  also  we 
know  of  sacred  poetry  and  legend,  sacred  laws, 
liturgies,  and  rituals  being  handed  down  and 
preserved  throughout  many  generations  in  un- 
written form.  In  all  such  cases  there  can  be  no 
doubt  that  during  the  period  of  oral  transmis- 
sion the  text  underwent  many  modifications. 
Sometimes  a  given  text  has  been  transmitted 
in  two  or  more  parallel  forms,  and  this  fact 
enables  us  to  see  how  various  types  of  error  and 
change  may  occur.  The  claim  has  been  made 
that  a  special  providence  preserved  the  docu- 
ments of  the  Old  and  the  New  Testaments  from 
all  contamination  by  the  various  types  of  cor- 
ruption which  normally  affect  documents  dur- 
ing the  long  process  of  their  transmission.  Pre- 
cisely the  same  claim  is  made  by  other  religions 
for  their  scriptures,  but  the  evidence  *u  our 
hands  makes  it  quite  clear  that  in  all  cases  such 
claims  are  baseless.  The  text  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment in  its  written  form  has  demonstrably  been 
subject  to  alteration  and  modification  in  the 
process  of  transmission,  and  there  is  no  reason 


46 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


to  think  that  it  did  not  suffer  similarly  during 
the  period  of  oral  transmission  before  it  was 
recorded  in  written  form.  This  does  not  neces- 
sarily mean  that  the  text  has  been  altered  with 
evil  intent.  The  correctors  may  have  meant  well. 
Obsolete  words  tend  to  be  replaced  by  words  in 
more  common  use;  expressions  which  the  taste 
of  a  later  day  finds  objectionable  tend  to  be 
toned  down  or  replaced;  explanatory  glosses 
come  to  be  added  as  an  aid  to  understanding  a 
text.  Although  such  modifications  are  made  with 
good  intent,  they  constitute  a  tampering  with 
the  text  and  must  be  technically  considered  as 
cases  of  textual  corruption. 

How  early  any  of  the  Old  Testament  material 
was  written  down,  or  in  what  form,  we  cannot 
say  with  certainty.  Written  material  of  a  reli- 
gious nature  was  found  in  the  Near  East  at  an 
early  period,  perhaps  as  early  as  the  fourth  mil- 
lennium B.C.  The  Pyramid  texts  of  the  early 
dynasties  in  Egypt  present  material  which 
strongly  suggests  that  it  is  derived  from  written 
material  of  the  predynastic  period.  Temple 
records  in  Mesopotamia  may  be  even  earlier 
than  this.  A  publication  by  Maurice  Dunand1 
suggests  that  in  Canaan  pictographic  script  may 
have  been  in  use,  at  least  at  Byblos,  not  very 
much  later,  while  a  pseudo-hieroglyphic  script 
was  certainly  in  use  there  before  the  end  of  the 
third  millennium  B.C.  There  is  thus  nothing 
inherently  impossible  in  the  suggestion  that 
written  religious  documents  may  have  been  in 
circulation  in  Palestine  during  the  patriarchal 
period.  The  alphabetic  use  of  cuneiform  signs 
in  the  Ras  Shamra  texts,  the  alphabetic  adapta- 
tion of  Egyptian  signs  in  the  Sinai  inscriptions 
from  Serabit  el-Khadem,  the  possibility  that  the 
acrophonetic  system  of  reading  hieroglyphs  in 
Egypt  may  have  given  rise  to  an  alphabetic 
system  of  signs  there  earlier  than  the  Eighteenth 
Dynasty,  and  the  evidence  adduced  by  Dunand 
in  the  above-mentioned  book,  suggesting  that 
the  Phoenician  alphabet  may  go  back  as  far  as 
the  fifteenth  century  B.C.,  make  it  not  only  pos- 
sible but  even  probable  that  in  Mosaic  times 
an  alphabetic  script  would  have  been  used  in 
Palestine  for  recording  religious  documents.  It 
is  thus  beside  the  point  to  discuss  whether  our 
Old  Testament  may  in  places  present  features 
of  documents  transcribed  from  originals  which 
Moses  wrote  in  cuneiform  on  clay  tablets,  or 
from  documents  on  papyrus,  in  some  form  of 
hieratic  script,  in  which  he  brought  from  Egypt 
the  story  of  the  bondage  and  recorded  the  tale 
of  the  desert  wanderings  and  the  laws  given  at 
Sinai.  Literary  criticism  suggests  that  the  earliest 
material  we  actually  have  in  our  Old  Testament 
documents  dates  from  the  tenth  century  B.C., 
and  as  we  have  several  examples  of  writing  in 

1  Byblia  Grammata  (Beyrouth:  1945). 


an  alphabetic  script  from  Palestine  of  the  early 
Iron  Age  (ca.  1200-900  B.C.)  ,  examples  which 
suggest  that  writing  was  then  used  for  everyday 
purposes,  it  is  reasonable  to  assume  that  if  our 
documents  took  written  form  in  this  period, 
they  would  have  been  written  in  the  same  way. 

References  to  writing  in  the  Old  Testament 
are  not  numerous.  In  Genesis  there  is  no  allu- 
sion to  writing,  but  in  Exodus  the  JE  document 
represents  Moses  as  practicing  the  art  (Exod. 
17:14;  34:28) .  The  more  frequent  references  in 
the  Prophets  indicate  that  writing  was  common 
in  their  time.  The  oft-quoted  "pen  of  the 
writer"  in  Judg.  5:14  is  no  evidence,  for  liJD 
tDStf  means  rather  the  scribe's  staff  of  office. 
The  sro'  of  Judg.  8:14,  however,  may  be  proof 
that  youths  in  Gideon's  time  were  taught  to 
write,  while  David  is  described  not  only  as  hav- 
ing secretaries  on  his  staff  (II  Sam.  8:17;  20:25; 
cf.  II  Kings  12:11  [Heb.  10]),  but  also  as  him- 
self writing  and  sending  a  message  (II  Sam. 
11:14-15) .  The  Gezer  calendar  of  the  ninth  (or 
perhaps  the  tenth)  century  B.C.,  the  Mesha" 
inscription  in  Moabitish  of  the  ninth  century, 
and  the  business  documents  on  ostraca  from 
Samaria  of  the  eighth  century,  all  of  which  are 
in  dialects  closely  related  to  biblical  Hebrew, 
show  us  what  the  script  in  use  in  this  age  was 
like.  The  earliest  documents  in  Hebrew  at  pres- 
ent known  are  the  Siloam  inscriptions  of  the 
eighth  century,  the  Ophel  ostracon  of  the  sev- 
enth century,  numerous  stamps  on  jar  handles, 
seals  from  various  sites  and  dates  between  650 
and  500  B.C.,  and  the  Lachish  letters  on  ostraca 
from  the  sixth  century.  All  these  use  that  same 
type  of  script. 

The  Siloam  inscriptions  are  incised  on  stone, 
as  are  the  Gezer  calendar  and  the  Moabite  in- 
scription. Religious  inscriptions  carved  on  stone 
are  known  from  very  early  periods  in  the  Near 
East.  In  the  Old  Testament  itself  we  read  of 
Moses  having  his  laws  on  tables  of  stone  (Exod. 
31:18;  34:1,  28),  while  laws  written  on  stones 
were  set  up  beyond  Jordan  (Deut.  27:2-3; 
Josh.  8:30-32) .  Inscriptions  carved  on  wood  and 
metal  are  also  known  from  early  times.  The 
m^  of  Isa.  30:8  and  Hab.  2:2  was  doubtless  of 
wood,  and  perhaps  the  p1^  of  Isa.  8:1  was  of 
metal.  The  cuneiform  religious  texts  are  com- 
monly on  clay,  and  that  such  a  material  was 
used  for  writing  in  Israel  is  evidenced  not  only 
by  the  stamped  jar  handles  and  seals,  but  also 
by  the  notice  that  Ezekiel  was  directed  to  draw 
his  plan  of  Jerusalem  on  a  tile  (nsrt,  Ezek.  4:1)  . 
Writing  that  is  painted,  not  incised,  is  known 
from  quite  early  times  in  Egypt,  and  on  a 
variety  of  materials.  This  method  of  writing 
served  to  introduce  new  materials  such  as  linen, 
leather,  ostraca,  and  papyri,  and  with  these 
developed  the  use  of  ink.  Ostraca  were  used 


47 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


mostly  for  nonliterary  documents.  We  have 
representations  on  both  Mesopotamian  and 
Egyptian  monuments  of  scribes  using  leather 
or  parchment  scrolls.  The  Letter  to  Aristeas 
(ca.  110  B.C.)  assumes  that  it  was  customary  for 
scripture  books  to  be  copied  on  parchment.  The 
story  of  the  cutting  and  burning  of  the  roll  of 
which  we  read  in  Jer.  36:23  suggests  papyrus 
rather  than  leather,  and  indeed  the  Greek 
translation  assumes  that  it  was  a  papyrus  roll. 
Papyrus  was  used  in  Egypt  at  an  early  date. 
The  story  of  Wen  Amon  (ca,  1110  B.C.)  shows 
that  large  quantities  of  this  writing  material 
were  being  imported  into  Byblos,  a  fact  which 
suggests  its  common  use  in  other  centers  also. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  a  number  of  seals  in  the 
collection  of  the  Palestine  Museum  bear  evi- 
dence of  having  been  impressed  on  papyrus 
documents.  It  is  probable  that  the  early  docu- 
ments of  the  Old  Testament  would  have  been 
written  on  papyrus.  The  sense  that  we  have  in 
some  parts  of  the  Old  Testament  of  dealing 
with  dismembered  fragments  whose  arrange- 
ment and  piecing  together  had  presented  diffi- 
culties to  the  collectors  has  its  parallel  in  the 
difficulties  scholars  have  in  dealing  with  the 
Greek  papyri,  and  perhaps  can  best  be  ex- 
plained by  the  assumption  that  much  of  the 
original  material  came  to  the  collectors  written 
on  this  type  of  perishable  material. 

The  kind  of  writing  instrument  employed 
would  depend  on  the  material  being  used. 
Metal  implements  were  used  for  incising  in- 
scriptions on  stone  and  metal.  Job  19:24  speaks 
of  an  "iron  pen"  (^m  toy)  with  which  he  would 
engrave  his  words,  and  the  same  expression  is 
used  in  Jer.  17: 1  for  the  pen  which  is  to  engrave 
the  sin  of  Judah.  The  tsin,  or  "graving  tool," 
which  in  Exod.  32:4  is  the  instrument  whereby 
the  golden  calf  was  fashioned,  in  Isa.  8:1  is 
used  for  the  "pen"  with  which  the  prophet  was 
to  write  his  message.  The  stylus  (crruXo^)  was 
a  pointed  instrument  for  writing  on  clay  or 
wax.  A  brush  could  be  used  for  writing  on 
various  types  of  material  with  either  paint  or 
ink.  The  popular  instrument  for  writing,  how- 
ever, was  the  reed  pen,  such  as  is  pictured  in  the 
hands  of  scribes  in  early  Egyptian  tombs.  This 
is  the  KdAccjaoq  (III  Mace.  4:20)  for  which  the 
Hebrew  equivalent  is  toy  (Ps.  45:2  [Heb.  1]; 
Jer.  8'8) .  The  point  wore  down  and  had  to  be 
recut,  whence  comes  the  importance  of  the 
"scribe's  knife"  (Jer.  36:23),  which  he  also 
used  for  making  erasures.  The  Samaritan  ostraca 
and  the  Lachish  letters  are  written  with  ink, 
and  Baruch  tells  how  he  wrote  the  words  of  the 
prophet  in  ink  (Jer.  36:18).  Along  with  his 
knife,  the  scribe  carried  in  his  girdle  the  ink- 
horn  (Ezek.  9:2) . 
Though  individual  oracles  or  poems,  records 

48 


or  literary  pieces,  would  be  written  on  con- 
venient papyrus  sheets,  the  normal  book  form 
at  the  time  of  these  early  Old  Testament  docu- 
ments was  the  scroll  or  roll,  whether  of  papyrus, 
leather,  or  parchment.  Such  are  represented  on 
Egyptian  and  Mesopotamian  monuments,  and 
in  the  well-known  scene  on  the  Arch  of  Titus  a 
man  is  pictured  carrying  one  of  these  rolls.  That 
the  Hebrew  "iso,  "book,"  was  a  scroll  is  clear 
from  Isa.  34 -4,  where  we  read  that  the  heavens 
are  to  be  rolled  up  like  a  ISO.  So  the  n^Jitt  of 
Jer.  36:14  is  in  Ezek.  2:9  called  "the  roll  of  a 
book."  In  ancient  times  such  scrolls  or  rolls 
were  usually  small  in  size,  and  it  may  be  that 
the  dividing  of  certain  parts  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment is  due  to  the  fact  that  only  so  much  writ- 
ing could  be  contained  conveniently  in  a  nor- 
mal-sized roll.  The  cursive  character  of  the 
writing  on  the  ostraca,  which  is  also  reflected  in 
the  style  of  the  writing  in  the  Siloam  inscrip- 
tion, suggests  extensive  practice  of  writing,  so 
that  we  may  think  of  the  early  documents  we 
are  considering  as  having  been  written  in  cur- 
sive fashion  by  professional  or  semiprofessional 
scribes.  In  Jer.  36.18  the  prophet  pronounces 
the  words  with  his  mouth  and  Baruch  writes 
them  in  the  scroll,  but  it  is  by  no  means  unlikely 
that  some  of  the  early  documents  whose  content 
was  later  incorporated  in  the  Old  Testament 
may  have  been  written  by  their  authors  and 
not  dictated.  The  three  words  for  "scribe"  used 
in  the  Old  Testament,  ISD,  itatp,  and  IDSB,  all 
seem  to  be  words  borrowed  from  Mesopotamia, 
and  to  be  used  as  the  titles  of  officials,  but  this 
does  not  prove  that  private  writers  may  not  have 
been  common. 

The  oldest  specimens  of  Hebrew  writing  that 
we  possess  are  all  in  what  we  may  call  the 
Canaanite  characters,  such  as  were  used  in  the 
old  Phoenician  inscriptions  and  on  the  Moabite 
stone.  These  are  also  used  in  the  writing  on 
the  Samaritan  ostraca  and  in  the  Lachish  letters, 
and  would  doubtless  have  been  used  for  writing 
the  originals  of  the  Old  Testament  documents 
of  the  earliest  period.  These  characters  contin- 
ued to  be  used  on  coins  as  late  as  the  Jewish 
revolt  of  A.D,  132-35,  and  in  a  modified  form 
are  still  used  by  the  Samaritans  for  their  reli- 
gious books.  When  the  Aramaeans  came  into 
Asia  Anterior  and  began  to  write  their  Aramaic 
language,  they  also  made  use  of  these  Canaan- 
itish  characters,  but  in  their  hands  the  charac- 
ters underwent  certain  modifications.  We  can 
see  the  earlier  forms  in  the  inscriptions  from 
Zendjirli  of  the  eighth  century  B.C.,  but  by  the 
time  we  reach  the  Elephantine  papyri  of  the 
fifth  century,  these  Aramaic  characters  have  a 
definite  style  of  their  own.  A  little  before  the 
time  of  Christ  we  find  some  inscriptions  in 
Hebrew,  such  as  that  at  *Araq  al-Amir,  which 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


are  written  in  this  Aramaic  form  of  the  script, 
and  in  the  early  centuries  after  Christ  the  writ- 
ing on  the  Jewish  ossuaries  and  the  inscriptions, 
such  as  that  of  the  mosaic  at  'Am  Duk,  are  also 
in  this  script.  The  Elephantine  papyri  were 
written  for,  if  not  actually  by,  Jews,  and  there 
is  reason  to  believe  that  with  the  increasing 
use  of  the  Aramaic  language  in  Palestine  this 
Aramaic  form  of  script  gradually  superseded 
the  older  Canaanitish  form  in  documents  for 
official  usage,  though  the  survival  of  it  in  Sa- 
maritan and  the  fragments  of  Leviticus  from  the 
Ain  Feshka  cave  suggest  that  the  old  script  for 
long  continued  in  popular  use  alongside  it. 
Every  manuscript  of  the  Old  Testament  that  has 
survived,  including  the  Nash  papyrus  and  the 
Dead  Sea  scrolls,  which  are  our  oldest  specimens 
of  biblical  manuscripts  in  Hebrew,  and  may  be 
pre-Christian,  are  written  in  a  variety  of  this 
Aramaic  type  of  script  known  as  the  "square 
script."  There  are  in  the  Bible  certain  passages 
that  are  in  the  Aramaic  language,  and  it  is  not 
improbable  that  they,  along  with  some  of  the 
postexilic  material  in  Hebrew,  may  have  been 
originally  written  in  the  Aramaic  script.  It 
seems  certain  that  by  the  time  our  documents 
were  gathered  together  in  a  form  ready  for 
canonization,  they  would  all  have  been  written 
in  this  script.  Some  readings  in  our  present  text 
are  due  to  the  confusion  of  letters  which  are 
similar  in  the  square  script  but  not  in  the  older 
script  and  are  not  represented  in  the  Septuagint 
which  fact  points  to  the  same  conclusion. 

At  the  time  the  Pentateuch  was  first  translated 
into  Greek  it  was  still  in  the  older  style  of 
script.  This  is  clear  from  the  fact  that  certain 
of  the  mistakes  of  translation  in  that  version 
are  best  explained  as  due  to  the  confusion  of 
letters  which  are  much  alike  in  the  old  script 
but  which  would  not  have  been  likely  to  be  con- 
fused in  the  Aramaic  script.  Outside  the  Penta- 
teuch, however,  there  are  mistakes  of  transla- 
tion in  the  Septuagint  which  seem  to  be  due 
to  confusion  of  those  letters  which  are  similar 
in  form  in  the  Aramaic  script.  Josephus  at  one 
place  2  speaks  of  copies  of  the  Law  in  the  old 
script,  though  elsewhere  8  he  seems  to  know  of 
books  in  the  Aramaic  character.  That  the 
Samaritans  made  their  copy  of  the  Pentateuch 
in  the  old  characters  suggests  that  about  122  B.C. 
manuscripts  of  the  Pentateuch  were  still  circu- 
lating in  that  style  of  script.  In  the  Gospels, 
however,  we  find  the  yodh  referred  to  as  the 
smallest  letter  (Matt.  5:18) ,  which  it  was  in  the 
Aramaic  square  script  but  not  in  the  old  script. 
As  this  is  the  period  when  we  begin  to  find  Jew- 
ish inscriptions  appearing  in  the  Aramaic  char- 
acters, we  may  perhaps  date  the  complete 

«  Antiquities  XII.  2.  4. 
» Ibid.,  XII.  2.  1. 


change-over  into  this  type  of  script  as  having 
taken  place  in  the  first  century  B.C.  Later  Jew- 
ish writers  found  it  necessary  to  explain  this 
change  in  script  to  the  square,  or  what  they 
called  the  "Assyrian"  script,  and  so  we  have  the 
curious  passages  in  the  Talmud,  B.  Sanhedrin 
21&,  Yer.  Meg.  I.  716-c,  and  Tosephta  San- 
hedrin 4:7-8. 

The  text  at  this  early  period  would  have  been 
a  bare  consonantal  text,  though  with  a  begin- 
ning of  the  use  of  the  matres  lectionis.  Some  of 
the  inscriptions,  such  as  the  Mesha*  stone  and 
the  great  Siloam  inscription,  have  a  dot  as 
word  divider,  and  this  is  found  in  the  Samari- 
tan ostraca.  No  such  device,  however,  is  used 
in  the  Lachish  letters,  and  the  fact  that  numer- 
ous translations  in  the  Septuagint  depend  on 
a  different  word  division  from  that  in  our  pres- 
ent Hebrew  text  makes  it  fairly  certain  that  the 
earliest  manuscripts  would  have  had  neither 
marks  for  word  division  nor  signs  of  verse  divi- 
sion, though  they  may  have  had  some  simple 
form  of  paragraphing  such  as  may  be  seen  in 
the  Dead  Sea  scrolls.  The  inscriptions  reveal 
the  practice  of  abbreviation,  and  there  are  cer- 
tain phenomena  in  our  present  text  which  sug- 
gest that  various  types  of  abbreviation  were 
used  in  earlier  copies,  which  later  generations 
of  scribes  did  not  fully  understand. 

II.  The  Early  Collection 

In  the  wider  sense  the  history  of  the  text 
commenced  when  the  first  material  came  to  be 
composed.  Some  of  this,  as  we  have  seen,  may 
have  circulated  in  oral  form  long  before  it  was 
written  down,  and  even  when  reduced  to  writ- 
ten form  may  have  had  considerable  circulation 
before  it  came  to  be  regarded  as  scripture  ma- 
terial, and  as  such  copied  for  community  use. 
In  the  narrower  sense,  therefore,  the  history 
of  the  text,  as  a  text  of  canonical  scripture, 
begins  only  when  a  group  of  documents  comes 
to  be  copied  as  a  collection  of  writings  of  reli- 
gious authority.  Even  then  there  will  normally 
be  a  long  period  of  transmission  before  any 
attempt  is  made  to  fix  the  text  in  a  definite 
form.  Some  documents  in  the  collection  may 
circulate  in  a  contracted,  or  maybe  in  an  ex- 
panded, form.  Owners  will  correct,  interpolate, 
or  annotate  their  copies.  Some  will  order  to  be 
copied  for  them  only  those  portions  which  have 
interest  to  them,  or  may  have  portions  from 
different  sources  copied  into  one  and  the  same 
manuscript.  The  characteristic  of  this  period  is 
the  free  and  uncontrolled  transmission  of  the 
text  by  copyists  who  took  liberties  with  their 
text  in  a  way  that  was  not  possible  after  canoni- 
zation. Also  with  continuous  copying  over  a 
long  period  it  was  inevitable  that  there  would 


49 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


creep  into  the  text  the  usual  types  of  textual 
corruption. 

A  study  of  the  parallel  passages  in  the  Old 
Testament  reveals  the  freedom  with  which  the 
text  was  then  treated.  A  comparison  of  II  Sam. 
22  with  Ps.  18,  of  Ps.  14  with  Ps.  53,  of  Ps.  81: 
24o  [Heb.  l-8a]  with  Ps.  71:1-3,  of  Ezra  2  with 
Neh.  7:6  ff.,  or  the  parallel  accounts  in  Samuel- 
Kings  and  those  in  Chronicles,  shows  us  not 
only  the  wording  of  statements,  but  even  names 
and  numbers,  differing  in  a  way  that  can  be 
explained  only  as  alterations  made  during  trans- 
mission. Curious  repetitions  within  certain 
books  suggest  that  the  text  we  have  is  a  copy 
based  on  two  or  more  manuscripts  which  the 
copyist  had  at  his  disposal,  while  other  mistakes 
suggest  repeated  copying  at  different  times. 
Some  corruptions  would  seem  to  have  arisen 
from  the  process  of  transcribing  texts  from  the 
old  style  of  writing  to  the  new  square  script. 
Others  arise  from  the  usual  sources  of  copyists' 
errors — confusion  of  letters  or  groups  of  letters, 
wrong  repetition  or  omission,  transposition, 
false  writings  under  'he  influence  of  neighbor- 
ing words  or  sentences,  incorporation  of  glosses, 
and  so  forth.  Some  are  due  to  a  copyist's  exer- 
cising his  own  judgment  instead  of  merely  copy- 
ing, as  when  lie  introduces  wrong  word  division 
or  word  connection  or  a  false  vocalization,  or 
when  he  corrects  passages,  either  by  attempting 
to  fill  out  abbreviations,  or  replacing  words  by 
synonyms,  or  making  alterations  on  the  ground 
of  etymology.  Sometimes  explanatory  glosses 
are  added,  sometimes  the  text  is  expanded  by 
the  citation  of  parallel  passages,  and  occasion- 
ally there  are  tendential  alterations,  such  as  the 
interchange  of  the  names  Gerizim  and  Ebal 
during  the  Samaritan  controversy.  In  the  poet- 
ical and  prophetic  books  we  are  frequently 
conscious  of  dislocation  in  the  text.  One  cause 
of  this  may  well  be  that  in  such  books,  where 
there  was  no  such  guide  as  is  present  in  narra- 
tive material,  copyists  working  at  the  task  of 
copying  deteriorated  scrolls  often  had  difficulty 
in  recognizing  the  order  of  the  leaves  and 
fragments  lying  before  them,  and  so  tended  to 
join  pieces  together  on  the  ground  of  catch- 
words, with  the  result  that  in  places  quite  un- 
related materials  are  joined  and  related  materi- 
als separated. 

As  the  collection  grew  in  importance  to  the 
community  because  of  its  religious  significance, 
there  inevitably  came  into  being  a  body  of  men 
who  in  a  special  way  interested  themselves  in 
the  care  of  the  material  in  the  collection.  We 
find  this  happening  in  the  case  of  other  reli- 
gions, for  example,  in  the  growth  of  the  group 
of  the  Qurra*  in  early  Islam,  who  devoted  them- 
selves to  caring  for  the  text  of  the  Qur'an. 
Among  the  Jews  this  group  of  men  came  to  be 

50 


known  as  Sopherim,  that  is,  bookmen  or  scribes. 
Tradition  associates  the  name  of  Ezra  with  the 
formal  organization  of  the  Sopherim,  but  it  is 
fairly  certain  that  for  long  they  would  have  had 
no  formal  organization,  being  simply  individ- 
uals interested  in  scripture,  who  were  thus 
drawn  together,  until  presently  they  found 
themselves  regarded  by  the  community  as  in 
some  special  sense  the  guardians  and  custodians 
of  scripture.  They  were  by  no  means  mere  copy- 
ists, as  the  name  scribe  might  seem  to  imply, 
but  were  "bookmen,"  interested  in  everything 
that  concerned  the  preservation  and  interpreta- 
tion of  the  national  and  religious  literature  of 
their  community.  It  is  possible  that  they  came 
to  be  recognized  as  a  more  or  less  organized 
body  during  the  experience  of  the  Exile,  but  it 
was  later,  when  the  community  had  come  to 
recognize  that  its  religion,  both  in  belief  and 
practice,  was  founded  on  the  authority  of 
scripture,  that  they  really  came  into  promi- 
nence and  had  that  special  position  which  is 
reflected  in  the  New  Testament  references. 

From  the  material  in  our  hands  it  is  possible 
to  indicate  some  aspects  of  their  various  labors 
in  connection  with  the  text.  It  was  under  them 
that  the  change-over  from  the  old  style  writing 
to  the  new  was  completed,  and  in  their  hands 
the  manuscript  form  of  the  "square"  script 
developed.  With  them  the  collection  began  to 
take  shape  as  a  body  of  religious  literature.  The 
text  as  we  have  it  bears  manifold  signs  of  the 
hand  of  "the  redactor,"  so  it  is  evident  that 
pious  men  were  exercising  great  care  in  select- 
ing, arranging,  and  editing  material  to  form  a 
body  of  scripture  that  would  one  day  be  offici- 
ally canonized.  No  thought  of  such  canonization 
was  in  their  minds,  but  they  were  doing  the 
necessary  work  preliminary  to  such  canoniza- 
tion. The  earliest  versions  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment were  also  doubtless  due  to  members  of  this 
class.  Though  the  Greek  and  Syriac  translations 
were  later  revised  by  Christians,  the  underlying 
work  on  them  was  done  by  Jews,  and  like  the 
Aramaic  Targums,  they  seem  at  first  to  have 
been  quite  unofficial  undertakings  which  arose 
from  the  needs  of  communities  to  whom  the 
Hebrew  original  was  not  easily  intelligible. 
Different  sections  of  these  versions  were  trans- 
lated at  different  times  and  in  different  places, 
and  they  vary  considerably  in  both  accuracy 
and  style,  but  their  translators  would  certainly 
have  come  from  among  those  individuals  whose 
special  interest  was  the  text,  li  we  admit  the 
possibility  that  some  of  the  documents  in  our 
Hebrew  Bible  are  translations  from  Aramaic 
originals,  the  task  of  rendering  them  into  the 
sacred  tongue  would  also  have  been  the  work 
of  members  of  this  group. 

The  rise  of  the  synagogue  presented  a  special 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


problem,  for  numbers  of  copies  of  the  Torah, 
and  to  a  lesser  extent  of  the  Prophets,  would 
be  needed  for  the  synagogues.  Great  care  had  to 
be  taken  to  ensure  the  correctness  of  the  text 
thus  copied  and  the  Sopherim  came  to  be  more 
and  more  occupied  with  textual  details.  First 
there  was  the  question  of  orthography,  of  im- 
provements such  as  the  introduction  of  final 
forms  for  certain  letters,  of  the  increased  use 
of  the  matres  lectioms  to  ensure  correct  read- 
ings, of  perfecting  the  manuscript  hand  with 
its  "tittles"  and  other  small  peculiarities.  Then 
there  was  the  choice  of  a  standard  text  to  be 
read  in  all  centers  of  the  community.  Along 
with  this  came  the  task  of  marking  clearly  the 
larger  and  smaller  sense  divisions  in  the  text, 
since  a  correct  interpretation  would  often  de- 
pend on  such  marking. 

Increased  reverence  for  the  scriptural  books 
led  to  a  certain  amount  of  correction  made  in 
the  interests  of  piety.  To  safeguard  the  divine 
name  little  alterations  were  made,  names  of 
heathen  deities  were  disfigured,  small  changes 
were  introduced  in  order  to  avoid  anthropo- 
morphisms, and  euphemisms  were  substituted 
for  words  and  expressions  which  the  Sopherim 
considered  offensive  or  inelegant.  One  special 
class  of  these  euphemisms  is  that  known  as  the 
Tiqqunl  Sopherim,  to  eighteen  of  which  atten- 
tion is  called  by  marginal  notes  in  some  of  our 
oldest  manuscripts  (Gen.  18:22;  Num.  11:15; 
12:12;  I  Sam.  3:13;  II  Sam.  16:12;  20:1;  I  Kings 
12:16;  II  Chr.  10:16;  Jer.  2:11;  Ezek.  8:17;  Hos. 
4:7;  Hab.  1:12;  Zech.  2:12  [Heb.  8];  Mai.  1:12; 
Ps.  106:20;  Job  7:20;  32:3;  Lam.  3:20) .  It  is 
probable  also  that  the  curious  uniformity  of 
language  in  the  Old  Testament,  which  is  quite 
extraordinary  in  a  collection  of  documents  of 
such  varied  dates,  is  due  to  an  attempt  by  the 
Sopherim  to  secure  linguistic  uniformity  in 
their  text,  just  as  in  the  case  of  the  Qur'an  we 
read  how  Uthman's  committee  was  appointed 
expressly  to  secure  such  uniformity  in  the  final 
redaction.  It  has  been  suggested  that  the 
Sopherim  of  this  period,  conscious  of  numerous 
variant  readings  from  manuscripts  other  than 
that  which  they  chose  as  their  standard  text, 
and  desiring  to  record  these  variants,  simply 
inserted  them  into  the  text,  thus  producing  the 
very  curious  redundancies  often  evident  in  the 
present  Bible,  and  which  in  modern  days  should 
be  indicated  by  brackets. 

HI.  The  Completed  Collection 

With  the  closing  o£  the  canon  (ca.  A.D.  100) , 
we  enter  the  period  of  the  later  Sopherim,  the 
chief  feature  of  whose  work  is  the  "stereotyp- 
ing" of  the  text.  The  closing  of  the  canon 
defined  what  books  the  Jews  accepted  as  having 
authority,  and  it  must  have  become  evident 


soon  thereafter  that  a  closer  definition  of  the 
text  was  also  necessary.  The  New  Testament 
quotes  scripture  often  from  the  Septuagint, 
sometimes  from  what  is  virtually  the  present 
Hebrew  text,  and  sometimes  in  a  form  that 
agrees  with  neither.  Likewise,  the  early  Chris- 
tian writers  handled  the  text  very  freely,  so  that 
the  controversy  with  the  growing  Christian 
church  was  doubtless  one  factor  contributing  to 
the  sense  of  need  for  a  text  fixed  ne  varietur. 
It  would  seem  that  much  of  the  work  directed 
to  this  end  was  accomplished  under  the  direc- 
tion of  R.  Akiba  and  his  colleagues.  By  the 
middle  of  the  second  century  AJD.  the  text  of 
the  Hebrew  Bible,  as  regards  the  consonants 
and  the  first  stage  of  voweling  represented  by 
the  introduction  of  consonantal  letters  indicat- 
ing vowel  sounds,  was  probably  very  little  differ- 
ent from  that  which  we  have  today.  While  the 
old  Greek  version  of  the  Septuagint  shows  in 
a  great  many  passages  that  it  was  translated 
from  a  text  which  differed  considerably  from 
ours,  the  new  Greek  versions  of  Aquila,  Theodo- 
tion,  and  Symmachus,  that  were  made  between 
A.D.  120  and  200  rarely  show  readings  based  on 
a  consonantal  text  different  from  that  of  our 
Hebrew  Bible.  Moreover,  the  quotations  in  the 
rabbinical  writings,  though  they  do  occasion- 
ally have  variant  readings,  show  that  the  text 
used  by  the  rabbis  was  in  all  essentials  the  text 
we  have  today.  Thus  with  the  closing  of  the 
canon  there  was  also  a  fixing  of  the  text.  A 
uniform  text  necessarily  depends  on  the  choos- 
ing of  a  standard  exemplar  to  which  all  copies 
must  conform,  and  this  choice  was  probably 
the  work  of  the  Sopherim.  We  have  no  tradi- 
tion, however,  as  to  how  or  where  this  standard 
copy  was  selected.  It  was  a  text  that  had  a 
number  of  peculiarities,  some  of  which  must 
be  relatively  old  since  they  are  referred  to  in 
the  Talmud,  and  all  these  were  now  faithfully 
transmitted  as  part  of  the  uniform  text,  pre- 
cisely as  all  the  peculiarities  of  Uthman's  stand- 
ard exemplar  of  the  Qur'an  are  still  preserved 
in  modern  editions. 

Any  such  exemplar  chosen  as  the  standard 
would  represent  only  one  form  of  text  tradition. 
We  may  assume  that  in  the  eyes  of  the  Sopherim 
the  text  chosen  represented  the  best  tradition 
available  to  them,  but  it  was  not  the  only  tradi- 
tion. The  Samaritan  Pentateuch  in  many  pas- 
sages seems  to  be  following  a  different  tradition, 
particularly  where  its  numerous  differences  in 
orthography,  in  the  minutiae  of  grammar,  in 
names  and  numbers,  and  in  the  way  its  redactor 
takes  over  the  results  of  exegesis  into  the  text, 
have  external  attestation.  The  earlier  parts  of 
the  Septuagint  version  were  certainly  translated 
from  a  text  that  differed  in  many  particulars 
from  that  chosen  as  standard  by  the  Sopherim, 


51 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


but  even  in  the  parts  that  were  translated  much 
later  there  is  similar  evidence.  The  text  of  some 
books,  for  example,  Ezekiel  and  Job,  is  shorter 
in  the  Septuagint  than  in  the  present  Hebrew 
text,  while  in  other  books  it  contains  passages 
which  have  dropped  out  of  the  Hebrew  original. 
Its  tradition  on  numbers  frequently  differs  from 
the  Hebrew,  and  in  places  it  has  preserved  a 
better  form  of  proper  names.  Its  arrangement 
of  material  also  in  some  places  is  considerably 
different,  On  the  other  hand,  many  little  details, 
such   as   tendentious   changes  in   name    (e.g., 
tyina  to  rwmuo;  LXX:  M<-$tp6a0e) ,  show  that 
the  text  underlying  the  Greek  had  undergone 
somewhat  the  same  process  of  revision  as  had 
the  Hebrew.  In  the  rabbinical  writings  also  we 
occasionally  hear  of  other  codices  whose  read- 
ing did  not  always  agree  with  those  of  the 
standard  text.  Thus  we  have  a  number  of  strik- 
ing variants  quoted  from  a  codex  said  to  have 
belonged  to  R.  Meir,  and  a  list  of  variants  from 
a  codex  of  the  Pentateuch  said  to  have  been 
brought  from  Jerusalem  to  Rome  and  there 
housed  in  the  synagogue  of  Severus.  In  both  the 
Mishnah  and  Gemara  we  find  quotations  from 
the  Old  Testament  whose  wording  differs  from 
that  in  our  present  text,  and  the  further  we 
move  back  historically  in  the  rabbinical  writings 
the  greater  becomes  the  divergence  from  the 
present  text.  It  is  therefore  possible  that  the  re- 
search initiated  by  Blau  and  Aptowitzer  in  this 
field  may  reveal  further  traces  of  an  earlier  type 
of  text.  The  text  of  the  Nash  papyrus,  already 
mentioned,  is  closer  to  that  followed  by  the 
Septuagint  than  to  that  of  the  Masoretes.  In 
Yer.  Ta'anith  4:2  we  have  reference  to  three 
codices  known  as  M'*6nt,  Za^tuti  and  HP,  but 
it  is  doubtful  if  these  can  be  considered  traces 
of  variant  text  tradition. 

Even  though  the  Sopherim  of  this  period 
were  working  on  a  text  that  was  accepted  as 
standard,  the  technique  of  perfect  transmission 
was  not  attained  immediately.  They  seem  to 
have  recognized  that  it  was  not  a  perfect  text, 
and  modern  scholarship  suggests  that  we  can 
detect  certain  euphemistic  and  dogmatic  re- 
visions, conflations,  eliminations  of  unpropitious 
names,  corrections  of  unfulfilled  prophecies, 
due  to  their  hands,  as  well  as  scribal  alterations 
resulting  from  a  failure  to  distinguish  clearly 
the  guttural  letters,  exchange  of  consonants, 
and  perhaps  some  changes  due  to  the  universal 
scribal  fondness  for  wordplay.  As  their  tech- 
nique improved,  however,  they  learned  to  leave 
the  text  as  it  was  and  simply  mark  it  to  suggest 
corrections  or  emendations. 

A.  Textual  Markings. — Various  classes  of 
textual  markings  have  been  preserved. 

(a)  The  Puncta  extraordinaria.  Fifteen  words 
in  the  printed  Bible,  following  the  manuscripts, 

52 


are  marked  by  being  dotted,  viz.,  iu»3i  in  Gen, 
16:5;  i*te  in  Gen.  18:9;  noipai  in  Gen.  19:33; 
inp*n  in  Gen.  33:4;  |Ksrrm  in  Gen.  37:12; 
pmn  in  Num.  3:39;  npm  m  Num.  9:10;  *WK  in 
Num.  21:30;  tntyjn  in  Num.  29:15;  ^m*n  }fi 
in  Deut.  29:28;  KS>  in  II  Sam.  19:20;  nan  in  Isa. 
44:9;  tomn  in  Ezek.  41:20;  myspne  in  Eze£ 
46:22;  and  «M  in  Ps.  27:13.  This  dotting  of 
letters  is  a  well-known  scribal  method  of  indi- 
cating erasures,  and  the  rabbinical  notes  on 
these  words  in  Sifre  (Num.  9:10)  and  Midrash 
Rabba  (Num.  3:39)  make  it  clear  that  later 
authorities  thought  these  words  were  spurious 
additions  to  the  text.  It  is  probable  that  many 
other  words  were  so  marked  in  old  manuscripts. 

(b)  The  Miqrff   Sopherim,   and  'Ift&r  So- 
ph'rtm,  referred  to  in  Nedarim  37  b,  which  were 
directions  to  the  reader  as  to  the  correct  pro- 
nunciation of  words  or  groups  of  words  in  the 
text. 

(c)  The  Pisqd',  or  blank  space  left  in  the 
text,    apparently    to    mark    omissions.    Some 
twenty-eight  of  these  have  been  noted  in  the 
manuscripts,  e.g.,  at  Gen.  35:22;  I  Sam.  14:19; 
Ezek.  3:16. 

(d)  The  Qer$  wa-Kethibh  where  a  mark  in 
the  text  refers  the  reader  to  the  margin  which 
gives  the  correct  reading  to  be  used  in  place  of 
what  is  written  in  the  text. 

There  are  three  groups  of  material  in  this 
class: 

(i)  Qaryan  wd-16*  Kethibhdn — words  which 
are  to  be  read  though  they  are  not  in  the  text; 
that  is,  they  mark  scribal  omissions,  e.g.,  Judg. 
20:13;  Ruth  3:5,  17;  II  Sam.  8:3;  16:23. 

(ii)  Kethibhan  wa-16*  Qaryan — words  which 
though  written  in  the  text  must  be  omitted  in 
the  reading;  that  is,  they  mark  mistaken  scribal 
additions  to  the  text,  e.g.,  Ruth  3:12;  Jer.  38:16; 
51:3. 

(iii)  Qfre — where  nothing  is  omitted  and 
nothing  added,  but  the  reading  in  the  margin 
is  suggested  as  an  improvement  on  what  is 
written  in  the  text.  Sometimes  the  Qfr&  is  sug- 
gested from  motives  of  piety,  sometimes  it  is 
a  grammatical  correction  or  a  supplementing 
of  the  older  orthography,  sometimes  It  is  a 
critical  emendation  of  what  was  considered  a 
mistake  in  the  text,  and  sometimes  it  seems  to 
be  a  variant  reading,  either  a  reading  from  a 
parallel  passage  or  a  variant  that  has  come 
down  in  another  tradition.  Some  of  these  Qfre 
are  quite  ancient  but  others  would  seem  to  be 
very  late  and  belong  to  the  period  of  the 
Masoretes. 

B.  Verse  and  Sense  Divisions. — Another 
feature  of  the  work  of  the  Sopherim  of  this 
period  was  the  completion  of  the  task  of  mark- 
ing verse  and  sense  divisions  in  the  text.  Some 
simple  form  of  paragraphing  had  appeared 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


earlier,  but  to  this  period  belongs  the  consistent 
carrying  through  of  word  division,  and  with  it 
the  consistent  use  of  the  final  forms  of  letters 
1,  D,  j,  «i,  ?.  The  fact  that  not  only  the  Syriac 
version  but  also  the  Targums  sometimes  agree 
with  the  Septuagint  word  division  and  not  with 
that  of  our  printed  Hebrew  text  indicates  that 
this  fixing  of  the  word  division  was  a  gradual 
process.  Verse  divisions  are  assumed  in  the  rab- 
binical prescription  (Megillah  4:5)  that  in 
public  reading  the  translator  is  to  translate  only 
one  verse  at  a  time  from  the  Pentateuch,  but 
may  translate  three  verses  at  a  time  from  the 
Prophets.  Some  system  of  marking  verse  end- 
ings was  probably  devised,  and  although  the 
soph-pasuq  sign  of  the  printed  text  is  mentioned 
only  in  late  writings,  it  may  have  been  used  at 
an  early  period. 

It  is  clear  that  there  was  considerable  differ- 
ence between  the  verse  divisions  used  in  Baby- 
lonia and  those  current  in  Palestine,  and  there 
may  have  been  differences  among  the  various 
schools  within  those  countries,  just  as  we  find 
later  in  the  schools  of  Basra,  Kufa,  and  Damas- 
cus over  the  verse  division  of  the  Qur*dn.  The 
Hebrew  text  used  by  Jerome  had  certain  larger 
sense  divisions  marked  by  some  form  of  para- 
graphing, probably  like  that  of  the  pdrdshiyyoth 
mentioned  in  the  Mishnah  as  subdivisions  of 
the  Law  and  the  Prophets.  The  practice  of 
reading  regular  "lessons"  in  the  synagogue  gave 
rise  to  liturgical  divisions  of  the  text — divisions 
which  might  or  might  not  coincide  with  some 
of  the  natural  paragraphing  divisions.  The 
passage  in  Luke  4:16-21  does  not  prove  that 
there  were  fixed  pericopes  from  the  Prophets 
read  as  lessons  in  the  synagogue  beside  the  les- 
sons from  the  Law,  though  it  suggests  that  there 
was  a  recognized  portion  for  the  clay,  and  this 
suggestion  is  strengthened  by  the  fact  that  the 
earliest  Midrashim  seem  based  on  a  system  of 
fixed  lessons  from  both  the  Law  and  the  Proph- 
ets. Since  the  Mishnah  does  not  regulate  this 
matter,  it  may  be  that  there  was  considerable 
latitude  in  the  selection  and  arrangement  of 
these  pericopes.  They  would,  however,  tend  to 
be  marked  in  the  text. 

C.  Peculiarities  of  Orthography. — Certain  pe- 
culiarities of  orthography  the  Sopherim  appar- 
ently inherited  with  their  standard  copy  and 
transmitted  as  an  essential  part  of  the  text  they 
had  received.  Some  of  these  eccentricities  seem 
to  have  existed  at  an  early  age.  They  include: 

(a)  Anomalous  forms,  for  example,  Kin  in- 
stead of  ion  in  nearly  two  hundred  places, 
mostly  in  the  Pentateuch;  some  defective  writ- 
ings, and  some  cases  of  the  wrong  insertion  or 
omission  of  matres  lectionis,  as  in  Ps.  140:13; 
I  Kings  8:48;  Deut.  22:23,  28;  32:13;  Hos.  4:6; 
8:12;  9:16;  Mic.  3:2, 


(b)  Literae  majusculae   et   minusculae,   for 
example,   the  extra  large  ^  in  Deut.  32:4,  or 
the  extra  small  n  in  Gen.  2:4.  There  are  said 
to  be  thirty  cases  of  such  majusculae  and  thirty- 
two  cases  of  mmusculae.  Sometimes  the  use  of 
the  large  letters  resembles  our  use  of  capitals, 
but  frequently  they  seem  to  be  nothing  more 
than  scribal  peculiarities. 

(c)  Literae  suspensae,  where  certain  letters 
are  written  above  the  line,  that  is,  are  as  it  were 
suspended,  as  in  Judg.   18:30;  Ps.  80:14;  Job 
38-13,  15. 

(d)  Inverted  nun,  where  the  letter  :  is  in- 
verted and  reversed,  in  Num.  10:35,  36;  and 
seven  times  in  Ps.  107. 

(e)  Oddities,  such  as  a  final  D  in  the  middle 
of  a  word  in  Isa.  9:6;  a  i  cut  off  in  the  middle 
in  Num.  25-12;  an  initial  D  instead  of  a  final  in 
Neh.  2:13;  an  adhering  p  in  Exod.  32:25;  Num. 
7:2;  an  initial  J  instead  of  a  final  in  Job  38: L 

Similar  orthographical  peculiarities  may  be 
noticed  in  the  standard  text  of  the  Qur'dn,  and 
the  simplest  explanation  of  them  is  to  take 
them  as  scribal  peculiarities  in  the  ancient 
standard  exemplar  which  later  scribes  regarded 
as  sacrosanct,  and  therefore  to  be  transmitted 
faithfully  even  in  its  peculiarities. 

IV.  The  Masoretes 

According  to  Aboth  3:13,  R.  Akiba  used  to 
speak  of  JYIDD  as  a  fence  to  the  Torah,  and  this 
word  has  given  a  name  to  those  scholars  who 
succeeded  to  the  Sopherim,  and  who  from 
about  A.D,  500  onward  concerned  themselves 
with  the  safeguarding  and  transmission  of  the 
traditional  text.  They  are  the  moon  itya,  the 
Masoretes.  The  name  Masoretes  is  sometimes 
used  to  include  all  the  work  of  the  Sopherim, 
but  is  more  commonly  used  in  a  narrower  sense 
as  a  name  for  those  who  took  up  where  the 
Sopherim  left  off,  codifying  and  arranging  what 
had  already  been  done  on  text,  and  compiling 
the  great  apparatus  of  critical,  comparative, 
interpretative,  and  statistical  annotations  that 
go  under  the  name  of  the  Masorah.  Their  labors 
led  to  several  achievements. 

A.  Statistical  Masorah. — There  was  a  rab- 
binical conceit  (Kiddushin  30#)  that  the 
Sopherim  were  so  called  because  they  counted 
the  letters  of  the  Torah.  Though  this  derivation 
is  unsound,  it  shows  that  the  rabbis  were  aware 
that  these  scribes  were  using  statistical  devices 
as  a  help  in  checking  the  accuracy  of  transcrip- 
tion. The  Indian  scribes  who  copied  the  Vedas 
and  the  Moslem  scribes  who  copied  the  Qur'dn 
used  the  same  device.  They  counted  the  number 
of  words,  the  number  of  letters,  marked  middle 
words  and  middle  letters  of  passages  or  books, 
noted  places  where  anomalous  forms  or  note- 
worthy phenomena  occurred.  This  practice  may 


53 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


have  begun  early,  but  it  was  the  Masoretes  who 
gave  it  its  definite  form.  They  marked  the 
middle  verses  of  books,  as  at  Josh.  13:26;  Judg. 
10:8;  Isa.  33:21;  etc.;  they  indicated  that  the 
middle  verse  of  the  Old  Testament  is  Jer.  6:7; 
they  stated  the  number  of  letters  in  the  various 
books;  they  marked  with  a  "?  the  hapax  lego- 
mena;  they  noted  the  number  of  times  the 
divine  name  occurs;  they  made  lists  of  places 
where  a  word  is  written  fully  or  defectively; 
they  recorded  the  number  of  occurrences  of  cer- 
tain grammatical  peculiarities,  and  so  forth. 
These  annotations  were  later  gathered  together 
under  special  rubrics  and  recorded  in  the 
manuscripts.  They  are  of  textual  importance 
not  only  because  they  served  as  checks  to  the 
scribes  who  were  writing  copies,  but  also  be- 
cause they  preserve  evidence  of  these  curious 
features  of  the  text  that  was  accepted  as 
standard. 

B.  Exegetical  Masorah. — Since  the  Scriptures 
were  read  not  as  dead  documents,  but  as  part 
of  the  living  religion  of  the  people,  an  impor- 
tant task  of  those  who  cared  for  the  transmission 
of  the  text  was  to  ensure  correct  interpretation 
of  the  text  as  it  was  read.  Various  devices  were 
used  to  secure  this  aim: 

(a)  Text  division.  The  paragraphing  that 
had  been  introduced  earlier  was  now  systema- 
tized. The  pdrdshiyyoth  are  carefully  marked, 
the  "open"  by  a  fi  (rnmfifi),  and  the  "closed" 
by  a  D  (mairiD) ;  the  "open"  having  a  large 
blank  space  left  before  it  commences,  and  the 
"closed"  a  small  blank  space.  The  manuscripts 
are  uniform  in  the  marking  of  these  in  the  Law, 
though  there  is  less  regularity  in  the  case  of  the 
Prophets  and  the  Hagiographa.  The  Masoretes 
made  lists  of  these  sections  with  catchwords  to 
indicate  the  beginning  and  closing  of  each. 
With  the  systematization  of  the  form  of  worship 
in  the  synagogue  came  the  custom  of  reading 
regular  'lessons"  from  the  Law  and  the  Proph- 
ets. Those  from  the  Law  were  called  S^dhdrtm; 
in  Babylonia  they  were  so  arranged  that  the 
whole  Pentateuch  would  be  read  through  in  a 
year,  in  Palestine  for  a  three-year  cycle.  The 
schools  differed  somewhat  as  to  where  these 
divisions  should  fall,  but  marks  were  made  in 
the  manuscripts  to  indicate  them.  It  was  to  be 
expected  that  they  would  correspond  with  some 
of  the  paragraphing  divisions,  and  where  they 
coincided  with  an  "open"  section  they  were 
marked  by  fiss,  and  when  with  a  "closed"  sec- 
tion, by  ODD.  These  signs  stand  in  the  printed 
text. 

The  verse  divisions,  which  had  been  fluid  at 
the  time  that  the  Greek  and  Syriac  versions  were 
made,  the  Masoretes  attempted  to  fix,  and  they 
marked  them  with  the  Silluq  and  Soph  pdsuq. 
The  schools,  however,  differed  on  this  matter, 


for  we  read  in  Kiddushin  30a  that  the  Pales- 
tinians had  shorter  verses  than  the  Babylonians. 
As  early  as  the  Septuagint  translation  there 
were  rubrics  at  the  beginnings  of  some  books 
and  parts  of  books,  and  these  the  Masoretes 
systematized.  They  also  noted  on  the  margins 
of  the  manuscripts  the  haphtdroth,  or  lessons 
from  the  Prophets,  which  were  to  be  read  in 
connection  with  each  pdrdshdh  of  the  Law. 

(b)  Vocalization.  The  first  step  toward  vocal- 
ization of  the  text  had  appeared  in  the  use  of 
the  matres  lectionis,  or  vowel  letters,  and  this, 
when  consistently  carried  through,  was  sufficient 
for   an   intelligent  reading  of   the   text.   The 
modern  Hebrew  newspapers  and  printed  books, 
just  as  the  vast  majority  of  Arabic  and  Syriac 
books,   have   no   vocalization   other    than   the 
vowel  letters,  and  are  familiarly  read  by  anyone 
acquainted  with  the  language.  The  scriptures, 
however,  were  sacred,  and  piety  felt  itself  under 
obligation  to  avoid  any  possibility  of  misinter- 
pretation by  inserting  signs  to  mark  the  com- 
plete vocalization  of  each  word.  Jerome  had 
felt  the  need  for  such  signs,  and  apparently 
it  was  felt  also  in  the  schools  of  Babylonia.  As 
early  as  the  fifth  century  A.D.  the  Nestorians 
had  worked  out  a  system  of  pointing  for  their 
Syriac  Bible,  and  their  system  was  later  adapted 
for  use  with  the  Arabic  script.  It  was  apparently 
in  Babylonia  in  the  sixth  and  seventh  centuries 
A.D.  that  the  Jewish  schools,  under  the  same  in- 
fluence, began  to  work  out  their  system  of  vocal- 
ization, with  the  intention  of  preserving  the 
traditional     pronunciation     current      among 
them.  The  Qaraites,  who  arose  in  the  eighth 
century,  presuppose  in  their  controversy  with 
the   rabbinical  schools   a   system   of  pointing 
known  and  observed,  but  we  have  no  rabbinical 
tradition  as  to  how  it  arose,  save  the  later  at- 
tempts to  prove  that  the  vowel  points  were 
given  to  Moses  on  Sinai. 

Three  systems  of  vocalization  are  known  to 
us:  (i)  a  Palestinian,  whose  signs  closely  re- 
semble the  Nestorian  signs.  It  is  known  from 
manuscripts  ranging  from  the  sixth  to  the  tenth 
centuries,  and  is  a  supralinear  system,  used  at 
first  only  to  point  ambiguous  words;  (ii)  a 
Babylonian,  which  is  also  a  supralinear  system, 
with  signs  that  have  certain  points  of  contact 
with  the  Jacobite  system  used  for  Syriac,  and 
may  be  a  development  from  the  Palestinian; 
(iii)  a  Tiberian,  an  infralinear  system,  probably 
of  Mesopotamian  origin,  which  is  the  system 
now  in  common  use.  Once  the  system  of  vocal- 
ization had  been  fixed,  there  grew  up  for  it  a 
statistical  Masorah  similar  to  that  in  use  for 
the  consonantal  text. 

(c)  Accentuation.  A  further  system  of  signs 
was  devised  in  order  to  show  the  reader  correct 
pronunciation,  and  later,  correct  cantillation 


54 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


of  the  text.  These  signs  mark  the  stress  or  accent 
where  that  is  necessary,  and  serve,  like  our 
marks  of  punctuation,  to  guide  the  reader  to 
the  logical  or  syntactical  relations  of  one  part 
of  a  sentence  to  another.  There  are  two  tradi- 
tions with  regard  to  this  accentuation,  a  Baby- 
lonian and  a  Palestinian,  the  latter  having  two 
systems,  one  for  the  poetical  and  another  for 
the  prose  books.  They  seem  to  be  of  the  same 
age  as  the  signs  for  vocalization,  and  their 
forms  suggest  that  they  were  derived  from 
similar  signs  used  in  Greek  biblical  manuscripts 
to  regulate  the  public  reading  of  the  text.  Later 
there  grew  up  a  statistical  Masorah  for  the 
accents. 

(d)  Admonition.  At  places  admonitory  signs 
were  placed  in  the  text  for  the  guidance  of  the 
reader.  Thus  where  the  words  »riK;  to;  nto; 
Dinto  occur  in  senses  other  than  that  of  the 
divine  name,  e.g.,  Gen.  19:2;  31:53;  Deut.  32:17, 
21;  etc.,  a  sign  ^n  is  set  to  call  the  attention  of 
the  reader  to  the  fact  that  here  the  words  are 
secular  and  do  not  demand  the  reverent  treat- 
ment accorded  to  the  divine  name.  At  the  con- 
clusion of  Isaiah,  Malachi,  Lamentations,  and 
Ecclesiastes  the  sign  ppn>  occurs,  preceded  by 
the  beginning  of  the  last  verse  but  one,  to  warn 
the  reader  to  go  back  and  read  that  verse  again 
so  as  to  avoid  finishing  a  pericope  with  some- 
thing of  bad  omen. 

C.  Text-Critical  Masorah. — Other  classes  of 
notes  in  the  Masorah  are  in  the  nature  of  crit- 
ical remarks  on  the  text,  indicating  that  though 
the  Masoretes  felt  that  they  were  committed  to 
the  transmission  of  a  certain  text  tradition, 
they  were  aware  that  their  text  was  not  perfect, 
and  knew  that  there  were  other  text  traditions 
whose  readings  sometimes  differed  from  theirs. 
These  notes  are  of  several  kinds: 

(a)  The  Qeryan.  We  have  already  noticed 
that  some  of  the  Qere  notes  are  ancient,  but  a 
goodly  proportion  of  those  in  our  manuscripts 
seem  to  come  from  this  later  period  of  the 
Masoretes.  In  any  case,  their  present  arrange- 
ment and  detail  are  due  to  the  labors  of  the 
Masoretes. 

(b)  The  Sebhirim.  C.  D.  Ginsburg  collected 
some  350  of  these  from  the  manuscripts,  and 
many  are  marked  in  our  printed  texts,  e.g., 
Gen.  19:8,  33;  49:13;  Exod.  22:24;  Num.  8:4; 
9:6;  II  Kings  9:19.  It  is  clear  that  they  refer  to 
variant  readings,  but  whether  they  are  intended 
to  mark  emendations   to  be  adopted  by  the 
reader,  or  suggested  emendations  the  reader  is 
warned  to  avoid,  or  variants  from  other  codices, 
is  still  a  matter  of  dispute. 

(c)  Variants.  When  the  standard  exemplar 
was  chosen  it  was  only  one  among  many  copies 
then  existing,  and  variant  readings  from  other 
early  manuscripts  would  continue  to  be  remem- 


bered, just  as  in  the  parallel  case  of  the  Qur'an. 
Moreover,  even  the  greatest  care  taken  with 
regard  to  transmission  did  not  prevent  variants 
from  appearing  in  copies  which  were  supposed 
to  follow  the  standard  exemplar,  nor  suppress 
the  memory  that  there  had  been  various  tradi- 
tions on  how  the  text  should  be  voweled.  The 
variants  from  the  manuscript  of  R.  Meir  and 
from  that  in  the  Severian  synagogue  have  al- 
ready been  mentioned.  The  Masoretes  collected 
and  tabulated  these  variants,  and  listed  other 
variants  from  famous  old  copies  such  as  the 
Mahzdra*  Rabbd',  the  Mugdh,  the  HilMi,  the 
Zanbukt,  the  Jericho  Pentateuch,  the  Sharqi 
(or  Bab  hit) ,  and  so  forth.  There  were  differ- 
ences in  tradition  between  the  Babylonian  and 
the  Palestinian  schools,  and  certain  of  their 
readings  are  recorded  as  Madinhay  (Eastern) 
and  Ma'arbay  (Western) .  Curiously  enough, 
some  of  these  variants  have  crept  into  the  text 
where  they  can  be  recognized  by  the  anomalous 
spellings. 

(d)  The  Pdseq    (divider) .  This  sign  occurs 
almost  five  hundred  times  in  the  printed  text, 
and  seems  to  belong  to  this  class  of  Masoretic 
signs,   though  its  origin   and  significance   are 
still  disputed. 

(e)  Curiosa.  Marks  were  also  used  by  the 
Masoretes  to  call  attention  to  various  things 
they  thought  of  interest  in  the  text,  such  as  the 
occurrence  of  redundant  letters,  the  number  of 
years  covered  by  the  events  mentioned  in  a 
section,  the  fact  that  in  Ruth  all  the  verses  save 
eight  begin  with  the  letter  i. 

These  Masoretic  notes  were  written  in  the 
manuscripts,  sometimes  in  the  space  between 
the  columns,  sometimes  on  the  margins,  and 
only  later  were  they  systematized.  One  form  of 
systematization  was  to  group  the  notes  in  the 
text.  This  took  three  forms:  (i)  Initial  Masorah, 
that  is,  tabulations  placed  before  the  text 
proper  begins,  sometimes  written  in  fantastic 
forms  around  the  large  initial  letter  of  a  book, 
(ii)  Marginal  Masorah,  comprising  the  masora 
parva,  a  system  of  symbols  written  on  the  side 
margins,  or  between  columns,  or  more  rarely 
between  the  lines,  and  unintelligible  without 
the  key;  and  the  masora  magna,  written  on  the 
upper  and  lower  margins,  (iii)  Final  Masorah, 
made  up  of  tabulations,  often  arranged  alpha- 
betically, placed  at  the  end  of  the  text.  A  second 
form  of  systematization  was  to  digest  these 
Masoretic  notes  into  manuals  such  as  the 
Okldh  wa  Okldh,  or  the  Diqddqe  ha-Te'amim, 
or  the  Minhath  Shay. 

Since  no  two  manuscripts  ever  have  precisely 
the  same  collection  of  Masoretic  notes,  it  is 
evident  that  the  Masorah  never  reached  the 
stage  of  fixation.  Various  strata  within  it  can  be 
recognized.  There  is  an  old  period  where  the 


55 


language  is  Hebrew,  a  middle  period  where  the 
language  is  Aramaic,  and  a  later  period  where 
the  notes  are  again  in  Hebrew.  Most  of  our 
Masoretic  material  is  from  the  Palestine  schools, 
but  the  work  of  Paul  Kahle  and  his  students 
has  in  recent  years  brought  considerable  acces- 
sions to  our  knowledge  of  the  Masorah  of  the 
Babylonian  schools.  It  was  the  school  of  Tibe- 
rias which  finally  came  to  dominate  these 
textual  studies.  In  the  first  half  of  the  tenth 
century  the  tradition  of  the  Tiberian  school 
was  embodied  in  two  rival  codices,  one  of 
Moses  ben  David  ben  Naphtali,  the  other  of 
Aaron  ben  Moses  ben  Asher.  The  latter  of 
these  finally  won  acceptance,  in  spite  of  opposi- 
tion from  Babylonia,  and  provided  the  textus 
receptus  with  which  for  all  practical  purposes 
the  period  of  the  Masoretes  comes  to  a  close. 
Later  small  improvements  and  additions  by  the 


Naqdanim  made  in  the  thirteenth  and  four- 
teenth centuries  are  of  minor  importance.  Here 
we  reach  the  printed  text.  Jacob  ben  liayyim 
ben  Adonijah,  who  edited  the  second  edition 
of  the  Bomberg  Bible  (Venice,  1524-25) ,  col- 
lated a  great  number  of  manuscripts  and  sys- 
tematized their  Masoretic  notes  in  an  attempt 
to  provide  a  definitive  edition  of  this  textus 
receptus.  His  critical  method,  however,  was  not 
faultless,  and  the  Ben  Asher  text  he  produced 
is  contaminated  in  places  by  that  of  Ben 
Naphtali. 

V.  The  Printed  Text 

Jacob  ben  Ilayyim  based  his  text  on  relatively 
late  manuscripts.  We  have  an  abundance  of 
manuscripts  of  the  Hebrew  Old  Testament, 
some  of  them  synagogue  rolls,  but  the  majority 
in  codex  form.  The  Dead  Sea  scroll  of  Isaiah 
may  prove  to  be  from  the  first  century  B.C.; 
otherwise  the  earliest  manuscripts  bear  dates 
of  the  ninth  and  tenth  centuries  A.D.,  but  there 
is  doubt  whether  some  of  these  are  as  old  as 
they  claim  to  be.  Considerable  collections 
of  variants  from  these  manuscripts  have  been 
gathered  by  Benjamin  Kennicott,  G.  B.  de  Rossi 
and  C,  D.  Ginsburg.  In  spite  of  their  late  date 
they  are  the  basis  for  the  printed  text.  The 
earliest  printed  part  of  the  Bible  was  the 
Bologna  Psalter  of  1477.  The  early  prints,  how- 
ever, have  only  a  typographical  interest.  Then 
•we  come  to  the  Bomberg  Bible  printed  at 
Venice  in  1524-25.  Jacob  ben  Hayyim's  work 
on  that  edition  has  been  the  foundation  on 
which  most  later  printed  editions  have  been 
based.  Ginsburg's  texts,  both  that  of  1894  and 
that  of  1926,  and  the  first  and  second  editions 
of  Rudolf  Kittel's  Biblia  Hebraica,  started 
from  the  Ben  Hayyim  text.  The  first  Christian 
edition  of  the  Hebrew  text  was  that  in  Cardinal 
Ximtnes*  Complutensian  Polyglot  of  1520.  The 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 

Amsterdam  editions  of  Athias  (1661)  and  Leums- 
den  (1667)  were  based  on  a  comparison  of  the 
Complutensian  text  with  the  Ben  IJayyira  text. 
A  new  edition  of  the  Amsterdam  text  by  Van 
der  Hooght  in  1795,  and  revised  by  Letteris  in 
1852,  is  the  commonly  used  text  that  has  for 
the  last  century  been  circulated  by  the  British 
and  Foreign  Bible  Society.  For  the  third  edition 
of  Kittel's  Biblia  Hebraica,  Paul  Kahle  used  the 
Leningrad  manuscript,  which  is  a  very  accurate 
copy  of  the  ben  Asher  type  of  text,  and  presents 
the  best  Hebrew  Bible  so  far  available.  N.  H. 
Snaith  is  at  present  engaged  in  preparing  for 
the  British  and  Foreign  Bible  Society  a  new 
text  to  replace  the  Letteris  edition,  and  which 
will  seek,  both  to  get  behind  the  Ben  Hayyim 
model  to  a  more  correct  Masoretic  text,  and  at 
the  same  time  avoid  the  too  great  reliance  on 
one  manuscript,  which  some  scholars  feel  is  a 
defect  in  the  work  of  both  Baer  and  Kahle.  A 


large  edition  of  the  Hebrew  Bible  is  also  being 
planned  by  a  group  of  scholars  at  the  Hebrew 
University  of  Jerusalem. 

VI.  The  Ancient  Versions 

The  early  versions  are  important  for  the  his- 
tory of  the  text  in  so  far  as  they  provide  evi- 
dence of  the  type  of  text  from  which  they  were 
translated.  In  the  case  of  the  Old  Testament  we 
are  in  the  position  of  having  manuscripts  of 
certain  of  the  versions  considerably  older  than 
the  majority  of  our  manuscripts  of  the  Hebrew 
text.  The  versions,  however,  present  their  own 
problem.  Each  of  them  has  its  individual  textual 
history.  In  the  process  of  transmission  they 
were  subject  to  the  same  sources  of  textual  cor- 
ruption as  was  the  Hebrew  text,  were  redacted, 
emended,  interpolated,  so  that  the  recovery  ol 
their  original  forms,  which  alone  would  be  evi- 
dence of  the  type  of  text  from  which  they  were 
translated,  is  a  critical  problem  of  great  delicacy. 
These  versions,  moreover,  are  more  often  than 
not  the  work  of  several  hands,  and  translators 
vary  enormously  in  their  method  of  translation, 
a  fact  which  in  its  turn  affects  the  possibility  of 
restoring  the  original  underlying  the  transla- 
tion. We  still  lack  satisfactory  critical  editions 
of  most  parts  of  all  these  early  versions. 

A.  The  Samaritan  Pentateuch. — The  Samari- 
tan Pentateuch  is  not  really  a  version,  being  the 
Hebrew  text  written  out  in  Samaritan  charac- 
ters, and  so  only  a  Samaritan  recension.  It 
differs  from  the  text  of  our  printed  Hebrew 
Bibles  in  some  six  thousand  places,  in  about 
a  third  of  which  it  agrees  with  the  Septuagint, 
and  in  some  cases  with  the  Syriac  and  Latin 
versions.  Many  of  the  variants  are  nothing  but 
scribal  errors,  and  of  these  a  goodly  number 
are  due  to  confusions  among  those  letters 
which  the  Samaritans  no  longer  distinguished 


56 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


in  pronunciation.  Some  are  brought  about  by 
a  fuller  use  o£  the  matres  lectionis,  and  so  are 
also  merely  orthographic  variants.  Others  arise 
from  the  desire  of  the  copyist  to  avoid  anthro- 
pomorphisms, to  remove  anomalous  forms,  to 
harmonize  passages,  to  make  grammatical  cor- 
rections or  to  correct  mistakes  in  the  Hebrew 
text,  or  to  express  the  meaning  more  clearly  or 
forcefully.  Some  variants  represent  a  deliberate 
tampering  with  the  text  in  favor  of  Samaritan 
views,  for  example,  the  substitution  of  Geri- 
zim  for  Ebal  in  Deut.  27:4,  and  other  such 
changes  and  interpolations  intended  to  em- 
phasize the  importance  of  their  shrine  in 
Samaria  as  against  that  in  Jerusalem.  Other 
interpolations  are  due  to  material  being  sup- 
plied from  parallel  passages.  When  allowance 
has  been  made  for  all  such  variants,  there  still 
remains  a  body  of  readings  where  the  Samaritan 
text  presents  a  different  textual  tradition.  In 
some  cases  we  may  be  dealing  with  glosses  that 
represent  a  traditional  exegesis  within  the  com- 
munity, and  it  is  possible  that  some  cases  repre- 
sent dialectal  peculiarities.  There  remain,  how- 
ever, a  good  many  passages  where  the  textual 
critic  must  take  into  consideration  the  possi- 
bility that  the  Samaritan  presents  a  better  and 
more  likely  original  reading  than  the  Masoretic 
text,  particularly  where  such  readings  agree 
with  one  of  the  other  versions.  No  one  of  the 
manuscripts  of  the  Samaritan  Pentateuch  ap- 
pears to  be  older  than  the  thirteenth  century, 
but  they  would  seem  to  represent  a  text  current 
in  the  second  century.  The  best  edition  is  the 
five- volume  work  of  August  von  Gall  (1914-18) . 

The  Samareitikon,  quoted  some  fifty  times  in 
the  scholia  to  Origen's  Hexapla,  would  seem  to 
refer  to  a  Greek  rendering  made  in  Egypt  of 
material  from  the  Samaritan  Pentateuch.  The 
Samaritan  Targum  is  a  version  of  the  Penta- 
teuch in  Samaritan  Aramaic.  It  cannot  be  ear- 
lier than  the  fourth  century  A.D.  It  has  striking 
agreements  with  the  Targum  of  Onkelos,  but 
also  striking  differences,  and  so  is  probably  a 
local  rendering  of  a  common  oral  Palestinian 
tradition.  It  has  no  great  value  for  textual 
studies.  The  Samaritan  book  of  Joshua  is  not 
the  Hebrew  Joshua  but  an  apocryphal  work. 

B.  The  Aramaic  Targums. — In  the  true  sense, 
the  earliest  versions  of  any  portion  of  the  Old 
Testament  were  Aramaic  translations.  They 
were  produced  to  meet  the  needs  of  Jewish 
communities  whose  knowledge  of  Hebrew  was 
insufficient  to  make  fully  intelligible  to  them 
the  scripture  as  read  in  public  or  in  private. 
Aramaic  is  a  language  closely  akin  to  Hebrew 
but  sufficiently  different  from  it  to  make  docu- 
ments in  the  one  language  unintelligible  to 
people  who  spoke  colloquially  only  the  other. 
From  the  eighth  century  B.C.  Aramaic  had  be- 


gun to  spread  widely  in  the  Near  East  and 
gradually  to  supersede  the  other  Semitic  lan- 
guages both  in  popular  and  in  official  use.  We 
find  it  appearing  even  in  the  text  of  the  Hebrew 
Bible  in  certain  chapters  of  Ezra  and  Daniel. 
The  documents  surviving  to  us  from  the  Jewish 
community  that  dwelt  at  Elephantine  in  the 
Persian  period  are  in  Aramaic;  a  number  of 
Aramaic  expressions  are  used  in  the  New  Testa- 
ment, and  it  is  the  language  of  the  Gemara  of 
the  Talmud.  Where  Jewish  communities  were 
predominantly  Aramaic  speaking  there  would 
arise  the  need  of  translation  from  Hebrew  into 
the  locally  spoken  Aramaic.  Perhaps  we  may  see 
a  beginning  of  this  practice  in  Neh.  8:8,  where 
it  says,  "They  read  the  book  of  the  law  of  God 
distinctly,  and  they  gave  the  sense  so  that  they 
understood  the  reading." 

The  word  Targum  means  "translation."  In 
early  cuneiform  inscriptions  we  read  of  the 
targamanti  who  interpreted  for  foreigners  at  the 
court,  and  who  was  the  forerunner  of  the  mod- 
ern consular  dragoman.  His  translations  were 
for  the  most  part  oral,  and  it  would  seem  that  in 
Jewish  circles  the  Turg^mdn  or  Methurgemdn 
at  first  stood  by  the  reader,  and  as  the  scripture 
was  read,  gave  the  sense  in  the  local  Aramaic 
dialect.  Before  long  the  office  became  so  im- 
portant as  to  need  regulation.  The  regulation 
is  recorded  in  Megilla  4:4,  which  says  the  trans- 
lation is  to  be  verse  by  verse  for  the  Law,  and 
section  by  section  for  the  Prophets.  This  prac- 
tice died  out  only  when  Aramaic  itself  ceased 
to  be  the  vernacular  of  the  congregations.  The 
Targums  which  have  survived  are  all  of  Pales- 
tinian origin.  Undoubtedly  the  rendering  was 
at  first  quite  free,  each  Methurgemdn  making 
his  translation  as  he  went  along.  In  time,  how- 
ever, conventional  ways  of  translating  various 
passages  would  come  to  be  recognized  as  the  ac- 
cepted Targum.  For  long  there  was  a  strong 
prejudice  against  writing  these  Targums,  and 
when  they  did  come  to  be  written  down,  they 
represented  the  labors  of  many  minds,  even 
though  the  actual  fixing  of  the  form  may  have 
been  the  work  of  one  man.  Neither  Origen  nor 
Jerome  seems  to  have  known  of  any  written 
Targum,  though  we  have  reference  to  a  written 
Targum  on  Job  in  the  days  of  Gamaliel  I.  The 
most  important  Targum  was  that  on  the  Penta- 
teuch. There  seems  to  have  been  an  old  para- 
phrastic Targum  to  the  Pentateuch  of  the  sec- 
ond century  A.D.,  which  has  come  down  to  us  in 
two  forms.  In  Babylonia  it  was  worked  over 
both  in  language  and  in  form,  and  under  the 
name  of  Targum  of  Onkelos  became  the  official 
Babylonian  Targum.  It  is  on  the  whole  a 
literal  translation,  turning  to  paraphrase  only 
in  the  poetical  portions,  but  it  was  brought 
into  conformity  with  the  text  fixed  by  Akiba's 


57 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


school,  and  edited  to  remove  all  anthropomor- 
phisms and  expressions  thought  to  be  unseemly. 
A  Masorah  grew  up  in  connection  with  this 
Targum.  In  Palestine  itself  the  older  Targum 
had  a  final  redaction  in  the  seventh  century  to 
form  the  Targum  of  pseudo-Jonathan.  Both  in 
diction  and  content  this  more  closely  resembles 
the  older  Targum  than  does  that  of  Onkelos. 
It  was  the  Jerusalem  Targum.  Fragments  of  an- 
other Jerusalem  Targum  have  survived,  though 
it  is  difficult  to  say  whether  it  represents  a 
separate  Targum  or  another  recension  of  some 
of   the  pseudo-Jonathan   material   The   chief 
Targum  to  the  Prophets  also  received  its  final 
form  in   Babylonia,    though   it   originated   in 
Palestine.  It  is  probably  of  the  second  century, 
and  goes  under  the  name  of  Jonathan  ben 
Uzziel,  though  in  its  present  form  it  cannot  be 
earlier  than  the  fifth  century.  Portions  of  a 
Jerusalem  Targum  to  the  Prophets  are  also 
extant.  The  Targums  to  the  Hagiographa  seem 
to  be  of  Palestinian  origin.  Those  to  Psalms  and 
Job  are  early  and  contain  a  number  of  variants 
from  the  Masoretic  text,  some  of  which  agree 
with  the  Septuagint  or  the  Peshitta.  That  on 
Proverbs  is  but  a  working  over  of  the  Peshitta 
version.    To   Esther   there   are    two   Targums 
which,  like  those  to  the  Megilloth  in  general, 
are  in  the  nature  of  haggadic  paraphrase.  There 
is  a  haggadic  Targum  to  Chronicles,  but  appar- 
ently none  to  Ezra-Nehemiah  or  to  Daniel. 

C.  The  Greek  Versions.— Although  the  his- 
tory of  the  Greek  versions  is  for  the  most  part 
a  history  of  their  use  in  the  Christian  church, 
they  were  produced  in  the  first  instance  to 
serve  Jewish  groups,  particularly  those  in  the 
Diaspora,  whose  language  of  daily  intercourse 
and  of  literary  expression  was  Greek.  That 
such  groups  normally  used  Greek  in  connection 
with  their  religious  life  is  made  evident  by  the 
number  of  tombstone  and  synagogue  inscrip- 
tions that  are  in  Greek,  Paul  on  his  missionary 
journeys  addressed  congregations  of  Jewish  peo- 
ple in  Greek.  The  writer  of  the  Epistle  to  the 
Hebrews,  like  the  writer  of  the  encyclical  letter 
of  I  Peter,  in  addressing  Jews  of  the  Diaspora 
uses  Greek.  Doubtless  in  all  these  communities 
there  would  have  been  some  who  understood 
Hebrew,  but  there  would  also  have  been  many 
who  would  need  a  translation  of  the  Hebrew 
scriptures  into  the  locally  used  Greek.  As  in  the 
case  of  the  Aramaic  Targum  this  need  would 
in  all  probability  have  been  met  at  first  by 
someone  standing  up  by  the  reader  and  making 
a  running  translation  verse  by  verse,  or  section 
by  section,  as  the  scripture  was  read.  The  Greek 
version  would  thus  have  begun  as  a  Greek 
Targum.  Since  Alexander's  time,  however, 
Greek  had  come  to  be  more  and  more  a  world 


language,  and  we  cannot  set  aside  the  possi- 
bility that  some  Jewish  groups,  quite  apart  from 
practical  considerations  within  the  community, 
might  have  wished  to  have  their  scripture  made 
available  to  non-Jews  in  the  Greek,  which  was 
the  cultural  language  of  their  day. 

It  would  seem  that  the  need  for  a  Greek 
version  of  the  Hebrew  scriptures  first  became 
apparent  in  Egypt,  for  -it  is  there  that  from 
about  the  middle  of  the  third  century  B.C.  we 
begin  to  come  upon  traces  of  such  versions. 
They  were  not  official  versions,  and  at  times 
they  seem  to  be  somewhat  paraphrastic  render- 
ings of  the  Hebrew.  Apparently  the  Law  was 
the  first  section  to  receive  attention  and  to  be 
translated  with  considerable  care.  Different 
translations  of  the  Law  circulated  in  written 
form,  and  about  the  middle  of  the  second  cen- 
tury B.C.  an  attempt  was  made  to  supersede 
them  by  an  official  version  of  the  Law  in  Greek. 
The  Letter  of  Aristeas  (ca.  110  B.C.),  which 
purports  to  be  an  account  of  the  way  in  which 
a  translation  into  Greek  was  made  by  seventy- 
two  learned  elders  from  Palestine  for  the  royal 
library  of  Ptolemy  Philadelphus  (285-247  B.C.)  , 
is  really  an  account  of  this  later  venture.  It 
makes  quite  clear  (a)  that  there  were  in  use 
among  the  Jews  of  Egypt  certain  Greek  versions 
of  the  Law  which  for  one  reason  or  another 
were  considered  to  be  unsatisfactory;  (b)  that 
at  Alexandria  a  "revision  committee"  had  made 
a  concerted  effort  to  produce  a  more  satisfactory 
version;  and  (c)  that  a  serious  attempt  was 
made  to  have  this  revised  version  generally 
accepted. 

From  the  story  of  the  seventy-two  translators 
this  version  later  came  to  bear  the  name  Septua- 
gint (LXX) .  Both  Philo  and  Josephus  speak  of 
it  in  words  of  high  praise;  Philo,  indeed,  goes 
so  far  as  to  say  that  its  authors  were  not  mere 
translators  but  could  justly  be  called  prophets. 
Not  so  long  after  this,  however,  we  find  the 
rabbis  asserting  that  the  day  on  which  the  elders 
wrote  out  the  Law  for  Ptolemy  in  Greek  was 
disastrous  for  Israel.  There  are  two  reasons  for 
this  change  of  opinion.  The  first  is  that  mean- 
while, under  the  influence  of  Akiba's  school,  a 
new  recension  of  the  Hebrew  text  had  been 
made,  so  that  the  Greek  whose  fidelity  to  the 
older  form  of  Hebrew  text  had  filled  Philo  with 
amazement  was  now  outdated.  Second,  the 
Christian  church  had  taken  over  the  Greek 
translation  as  its  own  text  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment, and  had  applied  the  name  "Septuagint" 
(previously  used  only  for  the  Law)  to  all  parts 
of  the  Greek  Bible,  including  the  books  which 
had  received  no  place  in  the  Hebrew  canon 
fixed  at  Jamnia.  Moreover,  the  church  in  its 
preaching  was  insistent  that  this  Greek  text  was 


58 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


the  authentic  word  of  God.  As  a  result  of  these 
developments,  the  Jews  made  new  Greek  trans- 
lations which  followed  the  newly  established 
Hebrew  text,  and  since  they  took  no  further 
interest  in  the  Septuagint,  the  history  of  this 
Greek  version  from  then  on  became  that  of  a 
text  transmitted  in  the  Christian  community  by 
the  hands  of  Christian  scribes. 

Though  the  Law  was  the  first  part  to  be 
translated  into  Greek,  and  may  have  been  cir- 
culating as  early  as  250  B.C.,  we  have  evidence 
of  a  Greek  version  of  other  parts  of  the  Old 
Testament  early  in  the  second  century  B.CV 
and  the  grandson  of  Jesus  ben  Sirach,  writing 
about  130  B.C.,  mentioned  "the  Law,  and  the 
Prophets,  and  the  rest  of  the  books"  as  current 
in  a  Greek  version.  To  judge  by  the  Septuagint 
that  has  come  down  to  us,  the  historical  books 
were  translated  with  much  more  freedom  than 
had  been  the  case  with  the  Law,  and  the  trans- 
lators of  the  Prophets  frequently  gave  a  mere 
paraphrase  of  the  text.  The  Psalter  has  been 
well  translated,  though  an  extra  psalm  was 
added  to  the  collection.  The  rest  of  the  Hagiog- 
rapha  give  the  impression  of  having  been  trans- 
lated as  individual  books  at  different  times  and 
by  different  hands.  A  number  of  details  suggest 
that  though  the  Law  and  most  of  the  Hagiog- 
rapha  were  translated  in  Egypt,  the  Prophets 
may  have  been  translated  in  Asia. 

As  the  Septuagint  continued  to  be  copied  by 
Christian  scribes,  it  did  not  escape  the  usual 
types  of  scribal  corruption.  In  places,  indeed, 
there  was  a  little  tampering  with  the  text  in 
the  interests  of  Christian  teaching.  For  example, 
in  Ps.  96:10  (LXX  95:10)  some  scribes  added 
drr6  £uXou  to  the  words  6  Kuptoq  £pcccrfAeuaev  to 
make  it  clear  that  the  reference  is  to  the  Mes- 
siah ruling  from  the  cross.  What  is  more  im- 
portant, however,  is  that  no  uniform  text  of  the 
Septuagint  circulated  in  the  early  church. 
Origen  was  well  aware  of  this,  as  well  as  of  the 
fact  that  the  texts  used  in  the  church  by  no 
means  represented  the  Hebrew  text  in  the 
hands  of  the  Jews,  whereas  there  were  other 
Greek  translations  which  did  follow  that  text, 
Origen,  therefore,  set  himself  to  gather  materials 
as  a  basis  for  providing  a  uniform  text  of  the 
Greek  Old  Testament  for  use  in  the  church. 
This  was  his  great  Hexapla,  in  whose  six  col- 
umns he  assembled  the  Hebrew  text  used  by 
his  Jewish  teachers,  a  Greek  transliteration  of 
the  same,  the  versions  of  Aquila,  Symmachus, 
and  Theodotion,  and  a  text  of  the  Christian 
Septuagint  with  his  own  critical  emendations. 
For  some  of  the  books,  where  he  had  the  mate- 
rial, he  added  a  fifth,  sixth,  and  even  seventh 
Greek  version.  His  own  work  was  in  the  fifth 
column,  and  he  carefully  marked  his  emenda- 


tions and  his  critical  work  on  the  text.  This 
was  not  his  critical  edition  of  the  Septuagint, 
but  only  his  preparation  for  such  an  edition. 
Later  scribes,  however,  most  unfortunately 
treated  this  fifth  column  as  though  it  were  a 
true  Septuagint  text,  and  copied  it  without  in- 
cluding the  critical  signs.  Thus,  we  do  not  know 
what  manuscripts  Origen  used  for  the  text  of 
his  fifth  column.  Moreover,  except  for  those 
passages  where  we  have  help  from  the  Syro- 
Hexapla  or  some  other  source,  we  are  unable  to 
distinguish  with  certainty  between  his  text  and 
his  emendations. 

Origen  was  not  the  only  scholar  who  at- 
tempted a  revision  of  the  Septuagint.  When 
Jerome  took  up  his  work  in  the  fourth  century, 
there  were  four  types  of  text  of  the  Greek  Old 
Testament  in  circulation:  (a)  the  unrevised 
text  as  it  had  been  circulating  in  various  forms 
before  Origen's  day;  (b)  the  hexaplarian  text 
that  had  been  derived  from  Origen's  fifth  col- 
umn; (c)  a  recension  made  by  Lucian  of  Anti- 
och,  about  300,  which  appears  to  have  been 
much  used  in  the  area  between  Antioch  and 
Constantinople;  and  (d)  a  Hesychian  revision, 
of  approximately  the  same  date  as  that  of 
Lucian,  which  was  in  use  in  Egypt.  Manuscripts 
of  the  Septuagint  are  numerous,  but  it  is  only 
in  modern  times  that  research  has  reached  a 
point  where  it  is  possible  to  classify  them  ac- 
cording to  their  type  and  lay  the  foundation  for 
a  critical  edition. 

Of  the  three  versions  made  from  the  revised 
Hebrew  text  of  the  first  century  A.D.,  and 
utilized  by  Origen  in  his  Hexapla,  only  frag- 
ments survive.  That  made  by  Aquila  of  Pontus, 
about  130  A.D.,  apparently  under  the  influence 
of  the  school  of  Akiba,  was  an  extremely  literal 
translation,  so  literal  that  it  is  not  Greek  but 
jargon,  rendering  the  Hebrew  into  Greek  word 
by  word  with  no  regard  for  Greek  idiom.  That 
of  Symmachus  the  Ebionite,  made  about  170, 
is  in  good  Greek,  and  was  highly  regarded  by 
Jerome.  Both  Symmachus  and  Aquila  translated 
directly  from  the  Hebrew  text,  but  the  new 
version  of  Theodotion,  about  185,  was  rather 
a  revision  of  an  earlier  Greek  translation  in  the 
light  of  the  current  Hebrew  text.  What  survives 
of  these  was  printed  by  Frederick  Field  in  his 
edition  of  Origen's  Hexapla,  and  only  small 
fragments  have  come  to  light  since  that  time. 

JD.  The  Syriac  Versions. — Just  as  Greek-speak- 
ing Jews  and  Christians  needed  an  Old  Testa- 
ment in  Greek,  so  Syriac-speaking  Jews  and 
Christians  came  to  need  a  version  in  their 
vernacular.  All  the  early  Syriac  manuscripts 
represent  a  version  which  has  been  known 
since  the  ninth  century  as  the  Peshitta  ("com- 
mon" or  "simple").  These  manuscripts  come 


59 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


from   the   fifth  and   sixth   centuries,   but   the 
quotations  in  Aphraates  and  Ephraem  Syrus 
represent  the  same  version,  which  was  clearly 
the  text  commonly  used  in  the  Syriac-speak- 
ing  churches  from  the  fourth  century  onward, 
and    may   have    originated    as    early    as    the 
second  century.  Of  its  origin  we  know  nothing. 
Even  so  great  a  scholar  as  Theodore  of  Mop- 
suestia  (d.  428)  did  not  know  when  or  by  whom 
it  was  made.  Nor  do  we  know  whether  its  name 
means  "common"   in   the  sense  of  a  vulgate 
edition,  or  "simple,"  in  contrast  with  the  Syro- 
Hexapla.  Its  manuscript  tradition  is  not  uni- 
form, but   the  version   gradually   took  on   a 
stereotyped  form  in  the  language  of  Edessa, 
which  was  used  for  a  great  proportion  of  Syriac 
ecclesiastical  literature.   A  number  of  details 
suggest  that  it  was  originally  a  Jewish  version, 
perhaps  at  first  a  Syriac  Targum,  but  it  was 
taken  over  by  the  Syriac-speaking  Christians, 
and  in  its  transmission  has  been  influenced  by 
the  Septuagint.  The  translation  is  by  different 
hands  and  varies  considerably  in  the  different 
books.   The  translation  of  the  Pentateuch  is 
fairly  literal,  whereas  that  of  Ruth  is  a  mere 
paraphrase.  There  is  a  Masorah  to  the  Peshitta 
which,  however,  differs  somewhat  in  Jacobite 
manuscripts  from  what  is  given  in  Nestorian 
manuscripts.  There  is  no  Masorah  to  Chron- 
icles, Ezra-Nehemiah,  or  Esther,  a  fact  which 
suggests  that  they  were  later  additions  to  the 
Syriac  Bible.  The  text  of  Chronicles,  indeed, 
resembles  a  Targum.  The  text  of  the  Peshitta 
has  been  more  than  once  revised  but  never  in  a 
systematic  fashion. 

The  manuscripts  present  considerable  variety 
in  the  number  of  books  and  in  the  order  in 
which  they  are  placed.  Some  manuscripts  have, 
after  the  Pentateuch,  a  Liber  Sessionum,  com- 
prising the  books  of  Joshua,  Judges,  Job,  Sam- 
uel and  Kings,  Proverbs,  Ecclesiasticus,  Eccle- 
siastes,  Ruth,  and  Song  of  Songs.  In  other  manu- 
scripts Ruth,  Esther,  Judith,  and  Susannah  are 
grouped  together  as  the  Book  of  Women.  The 
Psalter  is  commonly  found  divided  into  twenty 
sections.  Many  manuscripts  contain  as  well  a 
variety  of  pseudepigraphic  works. 

The  Peshitta  was  translated  from  the  Hebrew, 
but  all  the  other  Syriac  versions  were  made  from 
the  Septuagint  Paul  of  Telia  in  616-17  trans- 
lated into  Syriac  Origen's  Hexapla,  which  is  the 
above-mentioned  Syro-Hexapla.  Of  these  other 
versions,  whether  Nestorian  or  Jacobite,  and  of 
the  Melkite  version  known  as  the  Christian- 
Palestinian,  we  have  only  fragments. 

E.  The  Latin  Versions. — Very  little  is  known 
about  the  origin  of  the  Latin  versions  save  that 
they  were  translated  from  the  Septuagint.  Latin 
was  the  vernacular  of  the  church  in  North 


Africa  westward  from  Cyrenaica,  and  apparently 
a  number  of  Latin  translations  of  various  parts 
of  the  Old  Testament  were  produced  in  the 
second  century  for  the  use  of  Christian  com- 
munities in  this  area.  Only  fragments  of  these 
remain.  The  text  underlying  them  has  some 
striking  resemblances  to  the  type  of  text  we 
find  in  Lucian's  recension  of  the  Greek.  Jerome 
made  a  revision  of  this  Old  Latin  translation. 
At  first  he  labored  at  revising  it  from  the 
Septuagint,  but  later  he  worked  from  the  He- 
brew text.  His  Vulgate,  however,  is  not  a  direct 
translation  from  the  Hebrew,  for  he  felt  obliged 
to  consider  the  feelings  of  a  church  used  to  the 
Old  Latin  translations,  and  consequently  he 
used  the  Old  Latin  and  the  Greek  versions  as 
well  as  the  Hebrew,  and  thus  produced  a  curi- 
ously mixed  text.  It  met  with  considerable  op- 
position when  it  appeared,  but  by  the  seventh 
century  it  had  become  the  Bible  of  the  Roman 
Church.  It  has  undergone  several  recensions, 
and  a  truly  critical  edition  of  it  is  now  in 
progress. 

F.  The  Coptic  Versions. — The  Christians  of 
Egypt,  like  the  Egyptian  Jews,  used  the  Greek 
Bible.  With  the  spread  of  Christianity  among 
communities   less    familiar   with   Greek    there 
came  the  need  of  a  translation  into  the  vernacu- 
lar of  the  people.  In   the  third  and  fourth 
centuries  a  number  of  translations  of  portions 
of  the  Bible  were  made  into  different  dialects 
of  Coptic.  The  first  to  attain  a  fixed  form  was 
that  in  the  Sahidic  dialect  of  Upper  Egypt.  It 
was  made  from  the  Septuagint,  perhaps  from 
the    Hesychian   recension,    though    there    has 
been  revision  from  the  Hebrew,  or  from  some 
source  that  knew  the  Hebrew.  As  various  books 
were  translated  at  different  times  by  different 
hands,  we  should  perhaps  speak  of  the  Sahidic 
versions.   Later   came   a  translation   into   the 
Bohairic  dialect  of  Lower  Egypt.  This  is  the 
version  which  is  used   today  in   the   Coptic 
churches.  There  are  fragments  of  translations 
into  other  dialects,  such  as  the  Fayyumic  of 
Middle   Egypt,   and  the  Akhmimic,   formerly 
spoken  around  Akhmim  in  Upper  Egypt. 

G.  The  Armenian  Version, — This  is  a  uni- 
form version  made  from  the  Septuagint  in  the 
fifth  century  for  the  use  of  the  national  Ar- 
menian church.   Legend  tells   of  early  saints 
laboring  at  a  translation  from  the  Syriac,  but 
the  current  version  is  clearly  a  translation  from 
Greek  manuscripts   of   the  hexaplarian   type, 
though  this  has  been  revised  from  the  Peshitta 
so  as  to  supplement  and  correct  the  Septuagint. 
In  places  it  supports  the  Septuagint  against  the 
Peshitta,  and  in  places  it  follows  the  Masoretic 
text  against  both,  so  that  some  have  thought 
that  its  revisers  must  have  used  the  Hebrew  also. 


60 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT 


The  manuscripts  differ  widely  in  extent  and 
arrangement.  Various  groups  of  apocryphal 
and  pseudepigraphic  material  are  included  in 
most  manuscripts,  and  commonly  the  manu- 
scripts have  prefaces  to  the  various  books. 

H.  The  Arabic  Versions. — It  is  not  certain 
that  any  portion  of  the  Bible  was  translated 
into  Arabic  before  the  Moslem  conquest  in  the 
seventh  century.  After  the  Moslem  conquest 
Arabic  translations  were  needed  by  both  Jewish 
and  Christian  communities,  and  we  have  a  be- 
wildering variety  of  translations  of  various 
portions  of  the  Bible,  some  made  directly  from 
the  Hebrew,  others  from  the  Greek,  Syriac, 
Coptic,  Samaritan,  and  even  from  the  Latin. 
We  read  of  John  I,  Jacobite  patriarch  of  Anti- 
och  (d.  648),  laboring  at  such  a  translation; 
and  another  John,  bishop  of  Seville  in  Spain 
(ca.  724) ,  is  said  to  have  made  one  for  Arabi- 
cized  Christians  and  Moors  in  the  West.  Moslem 
writers  refer  to  a  number  of  Arabic  versions 
made  in  the  ninth  and  tenth  centuries.  For  the 
Jews,  Saadia  Gaon  (d.  942)  made  a  translation 
of  most  of  the  books  of  the  Old  Testament.  It 
is  a  free  translation,  frequently  following  the 
Targums,  and  is  curious  in  that  it  has  a  tend- 
ency to  use  Arabic  technical  terms,  and  to  re- 
place biblical  place  names  by  others  more  fa- 
miliar to  his  contemporaries.  Saadia's  version 
was  used  by  the  Samaritans  in  making  their 
Arabic  version  from  the  Samaritan  Pentateuch; 
the  Qaraites,  however,  rejected  it,  and  made 
numerous  translations  of  their  own.  The  trans- 
lations from  Greek,  Syriac,  and  Coptic  are  all 
Christian,  some  Nestorian,  some  Jacobite,  and 
some  Melkite.  The  most  famous  of  them  is  that 
which  bears  the  name  of  Ibn  al-Assal.  Critical 
work  on  the  Arabic  versions  has  only  begun. 

/.  The  Ethiopic  Version. — This  is  a  Christian 
version  made  originally  from  the  Septuagint 
for  the  use  of  the  native  church  of  Abyssinia. 
Some  translation  work  would  seem  to  have  been 
done  as  early  as  the  fifth  century,  but  the  texts 
we  have  represent  later  translations  by  several 
hands,  some  of  whom  used  the  Syriac,  and  per- 
haps also  the  Hebrew,  as  an  aid  in  their  en- 
deavor to  give  a  faithful  rendering  of  the  text. 
The  work  was  probably  completed  before  the 
eighth  century,  but  was  afterwards  revised  on 
the  basis  of  Arabic  versions,  so  that  all  the 
extant  manuscripts  present  a  mixed  text.  This 
version  has,  even  from  early  times,  included  a 
number  of  writings,  such  as  Jubilees  and  Enoch, 
not  usually  included  in  the  canon  of  the  Old 
Testament. 

K.  The  Georgian  Version. — In  its  early  days 
the  Georgian  church  depended  very  largely  on 
the  Armenian  church.  For  this  reason  its  Bible 
is  a  translation  from  the  Armenian,  though  it 


has  been  influenced  by  the  Syriac  in  revision 
even  more  than  the  Armenian  itself.  The  trans- 
lation dates  from  the  fifth  century  and  is  by 
many  hands.  There  have  been  various  later 
recensions,  at  least  of  some  of  the  books,  but 
too  little  critical  work  has  been  done  on  this 
version  to  permit  any  certain  conclusions  as  to 
its  history. 

Other  versions  in  these  various  languages,  as 
in  other  languages  of  the  East  and  the  West, 
are  too  late  to  be  of  any  interest  for  the  recovery 
of  the  text. 

L.  Conclusion. — In  spite  of  these  defects  the 
older  versions  are  useful  tools  to  the  student 
of  the  Old  Testament,  providing  him  with 
valuable  evidence  on  such  important  matters  as 
text,  exegesis,  and  canon. 

(a)  A  translation  presupposes  a  text  from 
which  it  has  been  translated,  and  it  is  often 
possible  to  reconstruct  with  a  fair  degree  of 
accuracy  the  original  text  from  which  a  passage 
has  been  translated.  Manuscripts,  even  of  books 
of  Scripture,  are  subject  in  transmission  to  ac- 
cident, to  interpolation,  to  alteration,  and  to 
various  types  of  textual  corruption.  In  the  case 
of  the  Old  Testament,  many  manuscripts  of  the 
versions,  which  are  much  older  than  most  of  the 
manuscripts  of  the  Hebrew  text,  at  times  reveal 
places  where  lacunae,  conflations  or  transposi- 
tions, and  other  kinds  of  scribal  confusions  and 
alterations  have  affected  the  present  Hebrew 
text. 

For  example,  in  Josh.  15:59;  Judg.  16:13ff.; 
I  Sam.  12:8;  14:42,  lacunae  in  the  Hebrew  text, 
due  apparently  to  homoeoteleuton,  can  be  sup- 
plied from  the  Greek.  In  Gen.  4:8,  the  words  of 
Cain  are  not  given,  though  the  no  KM  leads  us 
to  expect  them.  The  Samaritan  text  supplies, 
"Let  us  go  into  the  field/'  and  this  is  the  reading 
in  the  Septuagint,  the  Targum,  the  Peshitta, 
and  the  Latin  of  both  the  Vulgate  and  Jerome. 
In  II  Sam.  24:6,  "unto  the  land  of  Tahtim- 
hodshi"  is  meaningless,  but  the  Greek,  "unto 
the  land  of  the  Hittites,  even  to  Kadesh/'  en- 
ables us  to  correct  it&nn  d'nnn  to  rmp  n>nnn. 
In  Job  7:20,  we  have  a  scribal  alteration  of  the 
text  from  motives  of  piety,  which  makes  our 
text  represent  Job  as  saying,  "I  am  a  burden  to 
myself."  The  Greek  4-rri  aoi,  however,  shows  that 
the  present  awkward  *ty  was  originally  -pty, 
"unto  thee."  In  Ps.  16:2  our  text  reads  mttK, 
"thou  hast  said,"  and  so  the  King  James  Version 
has  to  supply  "O  my  soul"  to  explain  the 
feminine  singular.  The  Septuagint  (15:2)  has 
et-rra,  "I  said/'  that  is,  *m»K,  which  gives  us 
the  original  reading.  In  Prov.  10:10&,  "but  a 
prating  fool  shall  fall"  has  been  copied  by  the 
sciibe  from  vs.  8&  in  mistake  for  the  original 
ending  of  this  verse.  The  original  ending,  how- 


61 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


ever,  is  preserved  in  the  Septuagint, 
uercc  Trappnaiocc,  efpnvo-rroie?. 

Both  the  Septuagint  and  the  Peshitta  show 
in  many  passages  that  the  text  before  their 
translators  was  in  scriptio  continua  without  word 
separation,  for  the  translator  has  divided  in  a 
way  which  makes  sense  (sometimes  better  sense) 
but  which  is  different  from  the  way  in  which 
the  words  are  separated  in  rhe  standard  Hebrew 
text  For  example,  in  Jer.  46.15  our  text  reads 
*|HDJ  jm»,  but  the  Septuagint  scfjuyev  6  carte, 
shows  that  they  divided  it  «in  DJ  jrno,  "why  hath 
Apis  fled?1'  In  Ps.  44-4  our  text  reads  m*  D»nte, 
but  the  Septuagint  6  9£0(;  JJLOU,  6  ^vreAXoiiEvoc, 
shows  that  they  divided  it  ms»  »rrX  as  did  the 
Peshitta. 

There  are  also  many  places  where  the  versions 
show  that  in  the  text  before  the  translator  the 
matres  lectionis  were  used  differently  from  the 
way  in  which  we  find  them  in  our  present  He- 
brew text.  For  example,  in  Job  19:18  our  text 
has  fi^ny,  "young  children,"  but  the  Septuagint 
eic,  TOV  atcovoc  assumes  a  text  t^ny.  In  the  super- 
scription to  Ps.  5  we  have  m^rwrto,  "on  wind 
instruments/'  but  the  Septuagint  uTrep  Tfjc, 
"f°r  an  inheritance/'  assumes 


(b)  A  translator  is  endeavoring  to  give  the 
meaning  of  the  text  before  him,  so  that  his 
translation  shows  how  he  himself  understood 
the  text  and  possibly  how  it  was  generally  un- 
derstood in  his  day  or  in  his  area.  As  he  stands 
many  generations  nearer  the  original  than  we 
do,  his  understanding  of  the  text  before  him 
can  often  aid  us  in  matters  of  exegesis.  For 
example,  in  Dan.  10:1  the  King  James  Version 
follows  the  later  Jewish  commentators  in  trans- 
lating ^nj  ICSM  as  "but  the  time  appointed  was 
long."  The  Greek  versions,  the  Peshitta,  and 
the  Vulgate,  however,  show  that  tm  was  taken 
in  their  day  to  have  its  usual  meaning  of  "force/' 
and  the  Revised  Standard  Version  has  gone  back 
to  this  by  translating  "great  conflict." 

(c)  Finally,  a  version  is  useful  in  throwing 
light  on  such  questions  as  the  arrangement  and 
order  of  books  within  the  collection,  the  pres- 
ence or  absence  of  certain  books  in  one  locality 
or  another,  and  at  times  can  give  us  evidence 
as  to  the  type  of  text  in  use  in  different  areas 
at  different  periods. 


VII.  Selected  Bibliography 

BUHL,  FRANTS  Article,  "Bible  Text/'  in  S.  M. 
Jackson,  ed.  The  New  Schaff-Herzog  Encyclo- 
pedia. New  York:  Funk  &  Wagnalls,  1908.  Vol.  II, 
pp.  94-99. 

.  Canon  and  Text  of  the  Old  Testament,  tr. 

John  Macpherson.  Edinburgh:   T.  &  T.  Clark, 
1892. 

DRIVFR,  S.  R.  Notes  on  the  Hebrew  Text  of  the 
Books  of  Samuel  Oxford:  Clarendon  Press,  1890. 

GEDEN,  A  S.  Outlines  of  Introduction  to  the  Hebrew 
Bible.  Edinburgh:  T.  &  T.  Clark,  1909. 

GTNSBURG,  C.  H.  Introduction  to  the  Masoretico- 
Critical  Edition  of  the  Hebrew  Bible.  London: 
Trinitarian  Bible  Society,  1897. 

GORDIS,  ROBERT.  The  Biblical  Text  in  the  Making. 
Philadelphia:  Dropsie  College  for  Hebrew  & 
Cognate  Learning,  1937. 

GOTTHEIL,  RICHARD.  Articles,  "Bible  Editions"  and 
"Bible  Translations,"  in  The  Jewish  Encyclo- 
pedia. New  York:  Funk  &  Wagnalls,  1906.  Vol. 
Ill,  pp.  154-62,  185-97. 

KAHLE,  PAUL.  The  Cairo  Geniza.  London:  British 
Academy,  1947. 

KENNEDY,  JAMES.  An  Aid  to  the  Textual  Amend- 
ment of  the  Old  Testament.  Edinburgh:  T.  &  T. 
Clark,  1928. 

KENYON,  FREDERIC  GEORGE.  Recent  Developments  in 
the  Textual  Criticism  of  the  Greek  Bible.  London: 
British  Academy,  1933. 

-.   The   Text   of  the   Greek   Bible.   London: 


Duckworth,  1937. 
NAVILLE,  E.  H.  The  Text  of  the  Old  Testament. 

London:  British  Academy,  1916. 
NESTLE,    E.    Article,    "Bible    Versions,"    in    S.    M. 

Jackson,  ed.,  The  New  Schaff-Herzog  Encyclopedia. 

New  York:  Funk  &  Wagnalls,  1908.  Vol.  II,  pp. 

115-29. 
OTTLEY,  R.  R.  A   Handbook   to   the  Septuagint. 

London:  Methuen  &  Co.,  1920. 
REIDER,  JOSEPH.  Prolegomena  to  a  Greek-Hebrew 

and  Hebrew-Greek  Index  to  Aquila.  Philadelphia: 

Dropsie  College  for  Hebrew  &  Cognate  Learning, 

1913- 

ROBERTS,  B.  J.  The  Old  Testament  Text  and  Ver- 
sions. Cardiff:  University  of  Wales  Press,  1951. 
STRACK,  H.  L.  Article,  "Text  of  the  Old  Testament/' 

in  James  Hastings,  ed.  Dictionary  of  the  Bible. 

New  York:  Charles  Scribner's  Sons,  1904.  VoL  IV, 

pp.  726-32. 
SWETE,  H.  B.  An  Introduction  to  the  Old  Testament 

in  Greek.  Cambridge:  University  Press,  1914. 
WEIR,  T,  H  A  Short  History  of  the  Hebrew  Text 

of  the  Old  Testament.  London:  Williams  &  Nor- 

gate,  1899. 


62 


THE  CANON 
OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 

by  EDGAR  J.  GOODSPEED 


I.  Early  Collections 
II.  The  First  New  Testament 

III.  Early  Alexandrian  Canons 

IV.  The  Times  of  Origen 
V.  Eusebius  of  Caesarea 

VI.  Egypt  in  the  Fourth  Century 

A.  The  Clermont  Manuscript  List 

B.  Athanasius 

C.  Coptic  New  Testaments 

D.  Greek  Uncial  Codices 

Christianity  originated  and  developed  in  the 
presence  of  the  Jewish  scriptures,  or  what  we 
know  as  the  Old  Testament,  first  in  their  orig- 
inal Hebrew  but  very  soon  in  the  Greek  version 
of  them  which  we  call  the  Septuagint.  It  was 
this  Greek  form  of  the  Jewish  scriptures,  in- 
cluding as  it  did  the  books  known  as  the  Apoc- 
rypha, that  became  the  basis  of  the  Bible  of  the 
early  church,  and  was  gradually  supplemented 
by  a  collection  of  Christian  writings  which  we 
know  as  the  New  Testament.  How  did  this 
Christian  collection  arise?  What  steps  can  we 
trace  in  its  origin  and  growth?  These  books 
were  written  in  Greek  at  various  stages  of  the 
progress  of  the  Greek  mission,  and  they  came  to 
be  accepted  as  a  standard  list  or  canon  of  Chris- 
tian authorities.  But  what  led  to  their  collection 
into  a  definite  body,  and  their  association  with 
the  older  Jewish  scriptures  in  what  we  know  as 
the  Bible?  The  story  of  their  collection  and 
authorization  is  called  the  history  of  the  canon. 

I.  Early  Collections 

That  the  early  church  should  have  made  itself 
an  authoritative  scripture  and  placed  it  side  by 
side  with  the  Old  Testament  is  from  some 
points  of  view  strange.  It  already  had  an  ex- 
tensive literature  in  the  Jewish  scriptures,  which 
did  not  yet  form  a  single  book,  as  with  us,  but 
took  the  form  of  twenty-five  or  thirty  separate 
scrolls.  The  basic  conviction  of  primitive  Chris- 
tianity, moreover,  was  that  it  possessed  an  inner 
guide,  the  Spirit  of  God,  the  mind  of  Christ,  far 
superior  to  written  rules  and  records.  Yet  de- 
spite these  facts,  it  gradually  came  to  acknowl- 


VII.  The  Syriac  New  Testament 

A.  Tatian 

B.  Afrahat  and  Efrem 

C.  Rabbula  and  the  Peshitta  New  Testament 

D.  Later  Syriac  Versions 
VIII.  The  Work  of  the  Councils 

IX.  Further  Developments 
X.  New  Testament  Apocrypha 
XI.  Selected  Bibliography 


edge  a  Christian  collection  of  books,  which  it 
revered  just  as  much  as  it  did  the  old  Hebrew 
scriptures,  and  even  more,  for  as  Adolf  von 
Harnack  observed,  the  Old  Testament  was 
always  interpreted  to  agree  with  the  New,  not 
the  New  to  agree  with  the  Old. 

The  books  of  the  New  Testament  were  not 
recognized  as  scripture  from  the  moment  of 
their  origin,  but  came  only  gradually  to  such 
recognition.  The  letters  of  Paul  were  written  to 
meet  definite  acute  situations  in  the  life  of  the 
Pauline  churches,  and  when  those  situations 
had  passed  the  letters  lost  interest  for  the  next 
generation.  It  is  a  striking  fact  that  the  Gospels 
of  Matthew,  Mark,  and  Luke  and  even  the  Acts 
of  the  Apostles  show  no  acquaintance  with  the 
letters  of  Paul.  But  the  Revelation  of  John 
reflects  them  in  a  startling  manner,  for  though 
it  is  an  apocalypse  it  opens  with  a  collection  of 
Christian  letters  to  churches,  seven  in  number, 
preceded  by  a  general  letter  to  all  seven.  These 
letters  were  not  really  sent  individually  to  the 
churches  addressed  in  them,  and  then  later 
reassembled  by  the  writer  through  an  after- 
thought; they  were  frankly  and  obviously  writ- 
ten as  a  collection,  and  published  as  the  portal 
of  the  Revelation.  The  writer  has  evidently  seen 
the  Pauline  collection  of  seven  letters  to  Chris- 
tian churches  and  has  been  so  impressed  that  he 
makes  that  literary  device  the  facade  of  his 
apocalypse.  The  fact  that  he  begins  with  a  gen- 
eral letter  to  all  seven  strongly  suggests  that 
the  Pauline  collection  as  he  knew  it,  toward  A.D. 
95,  began  with  a  general  letter  to  all  seven  of 
the  churches  Paul  wrote  to;  and  indeed  Ephe- 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


sians  is  most  naturally  understood  as  just  such 
a  general  letter.  (See  Vol.  IX,  pp.  356-58  and  on 
Ephesians,  Vol.  X.) 

The  letter  of  Clement  of  Rome  to  the  Corin- 
thians, written  about  A,D.  95,  also  gives  clear 
evidence  of  acquaintance  with  a  collection  of 
Paul's  letters,  which  probably  included  Ephe- 
sians,  Romans,  I  and  II  Corinthians,  Galatians, 
Philippians,  Colossians,  I  and  II  Thessalonians, 
and  Philemon,  the  last  being  included  as  a 
church  letter  to  the  Laodicearis.  This  made  a 
collection  of  ten  letters  to  seven  churches,  Ephe- 
sians  being  the  introductory  letter  to  Christians 
generally.  This  letter  collection  was  not  thought 
of  as  scripture.  It  was  read  for  its  religious 
value,  with  no  thought  as  yet  that  it  was 
authoritative  or  inspired. 

The  rise  of  the  Synoptic  Gospels — Mark  and 
the  Gospels  of  Matthew  and  of  Luke  so  largely 
based  upon  it — between  A.D.  70  and  90  was 
followed  soon  alter  A.D.  100  by  the  Gospel  of 
John,  in  which  the  gospel  narrative  wa*>  strongly 
colored  by  ideas  gatheied  Irom  the  collected 
letters  of  Paul.  The  new  GospeLwas  designed 
to  meet  the  religious  ueeds-of  the  Greek  public 
which  had  become  the  field  of  the  Christian 
mission,  and  soon  after  its  appearance,  certainly 
by  A.D.  120,  it  was  combined  with  the  three 
earlier  Gospels  into  the  great  quartet  we 
know  so  well.  The  primary  object  of  making 
and  publishing  this  collection  was  to  bring  the 
immense  religious  values  of  all  the  Gospels 
freshly  to  the  attention  of  Greek  Christianity, 
but  in  the  course  of  a  generation  they  won  a 
place  in  Christian  woiship  side  by  side  with 
the  Jewish  Bible,  and  by  A.D.  150  these  "mem- 
oirs of  the  apostles,"  as  they  were  called,  were 
read  at  services  of  public  worship  in  Rome 
along  with  the  writings  of  the  prophets. 

A  few  years  earlier  Marcion,  an  original  and 
energetic  layman  of  Sinope  in  Pontus,  anxious 
to  unite  the  scattered  churches  and  shake  off 
Judaism,  had  undertaken  to  replace  the  Jewish 
scriptures  in  Christian  worship  by  a  Christian 
scripture  made  up  of  the  Gospel  of  Luke  and 
the  ten  letters  of  Paul.  Partly  as  a  result  of  this 
Marcionite  usage  the  letters  of  Paul  came  to 
hold  a  place  side  by  side  with  the  four  Gospels 
in  public  worship.  This  stage  is  reflected  in 
Athenagoras,  the  Athenian  apologist  (ca.  A.D. 
177) ,  who  makes  use  of  the  fourfold  Gospel  and 
the  ten  letters  of  Paul  as  Christian  authorities, 
though  for  him  they  fall  a  little  short  of  being 
inspired  scripture  like  the  prophets.  The- 
ophilus  of  Antioch  (A.D.  180-90)  goes  a  little 
further  in  his  esteem  for  the  Gospels,  though 
even  he  does  not  quite  admit  them  to  what  he 
calls  the  Holy  Scriptures.  He  highly  valued  the 
letters  of  Paul,  but  not  quite  so  highly  as  he  did 
the  Gospels.  So  in  his  day  in  Antioch  the  Jewish 

64 


scriptures  were  still  pre-eminent,  though  the 
Gospels  too  were  considered  inspired,  and  to  a 
less  degree  the  letters  of  Paul.  With  Theophilus 
we  are  in  fact  on  the  threshold  of  the  New 
Testament. 

The  martyrs  at  Scili  in  North  Africa,  in  A.D. 
180,  say  that  they  kept  the  letters  of  Paul  in 
their  church  chest,  with  their  church  "books" 
(pipMcc,  or  "Bible") ,  by  which  they  must  have 
meant  the  Jewish  scriptures  and  the  four 
Gospels.  We  gather  thus  that  the  Gospels  were 
in  their  Bible  and  that  Paul's  letters  were  not; 
but  these  letters  were  in  the  chest,  and  therefore 
were  evidently  read  in  church  from  time  to 
time.  In  the  Scilitan  chest,  in  fact,  we  can  see 
Paul's  letters  actually  entering  the  Bible.  They 
were  not  yet  in  the  "books,"  but  they  were  in 
the  chest  which  contained  the  books. 

In  AD.  170-80  Melito  of  Sardis  speaks  of  the 
Jewish  scriptures  as  the  books  of  the  Old 
Covenant,  or  Testament,  being  evidently  on  the 
verge  of  using  the  phrase  "Old  Testament"  in 
a  literary  sense  just  as  we  do.  From  that  use  it 
would  seem  a  short  step  to  using  the  phrase 
"New  Testament"  in  the  same  sense.  How  did 
that  step  come  to  be  taken? 

//.  The  First  New  Testament 

The  series  of  sectarian  movements  that  suc- 
cessively obscured  the  sky  of  second-century 
Christianity — Docetism,  Marcionism,  Gnosti- 
cism, Montanism — led  at  length  to  a  powerful 
effort  on  the  part  of  general,  nonschismatic 
Christianity  to  exert  and  express  itself.  Marcion 
had  attempted  to  organize  the  churches,  but  in 
too  drastic  and  partisan  a  spirit.  A  generation 
after  his  day  the  pretensions  of  Montanism, 
with  its  exaggerated  claims  of  prophetic  gifts, 
precipitated  a  general  movement  toward 
standardization  and  co-operation  among  the 
churches.  Types  of  polity,  doctrine,  and  scrip- 
ture which  had  established  themselves  in  his- 
toric churches  were  now  recognized  as  standard 
and  were  adopted  by  all.  The  Gospels  and  the 
letters  of  Paul  were  already  being  read  in  public 
worship;  now  they  are  definitely  recognized  as 
forming  the  core  of  a  New  Testament  scripture 
to  stand  side  by  side  with  the  Old.  The  two 
collections  are  supplemented  and  bound  to- 
gether by  the  book  of  Acts  and  two  or  three  or 
four  letters  which  bore  the  names  of  apostles, 
Peter,  John,  Jude.  The  new  scripture  was  con- 
cluded by  one  or  two  apocalypses — John,  Peter, 
Hennas. 

The  sources  of  our  information  at  this  stage 
of  the  development  of  the  canon  are  Irenaeus, 
Tertullian,  and  a  document  containing  a  list 
of  New  Testament  books  which  is  known  as  the 
Muratorian  Fragment.  Irenaeus  of  Lyons  wrote 
his  Refutation  of  Gnosticism  probably  between 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


180  and  189.  He  accepted  I  Peter  and  I  John 
(the  latter  including  II  John  and  probably  III 
John  as  well,  which  are  after  all  little  more  than 
covering  letters  for  I  John) .  He  accepted  the 
Revelation  of  John  and  the  Shepherd  of 
Hermas.  Tertullian  of  Carthage  wrote  his 
voluminous  works  between  A.D.  197  and  223. 
He  used  I  Peter,  I  John,  and  Jude  as  scripture, 
and  accepted  the  Revelation  of  John,  and  at 
first  the  Shepherd  of  Hermas,  though  later  in 
life  he  rejected  it  with  the  utmost  scorn.  The 
Muratorian  Fragment  on  the  canon,  so  called 
after  the  Italian  scholar  who  first  published  it 
from  a  Milan  manuscript  in  1740,  is  of  un- 
known authorship,  though  it  may  be  from  the 
hand  of  Victor,  bishop  of  Rome  about  A.D.  200. 
At  any  rate  it  seems  clearly  to  be  a  Roman 
canon  of  about  that  period  and  has  an  authori- 
tative ring.  It  includes  two  letters  of  John  and 
one  of  Jude,  and  the  Revelations  of  John  and 
of  Peter,  but  admits  that  some  will  not  have 
the  Revelation  of  Peter  read  in  church. 

It  is  clear  that  Lyons,  Carthage,  and  Rome 
were  not  wholly  agreed  toward  the  end  of  the 
second  century  upon  the  precise  contents  of 
their  New  Testaments,  though  the  major  bodies 
of  scripture  making  it  up  were  well  recognized, 
and  all  contained  I  John  and  the  Revelation  of 
John.  It  is  most  striking  that  with  all  of  them 
the  letters  of  Paul  included  the  letters  to 
Timothy  and  to  Titus  (but  not  the  Epistle  to 
the  Hebrews) .  It  seems  clear,  however,  that 
Timothy  and  Titus  were  written  in  the  second 
century  to  disclaim  Marcion  and  contemporary 
schisms,  just  as  the  baptismal  confession  now 
adopted  (the  "Apostles'  Creed")  disavowed  the 
main  items  in  Marcion's  heretical  views. 

111.  Early  Alexandrian  Canons 

The  end  of  the  second  and  beginning  of  the 
third  centuries  witnessed  the  activity  of  Clement 
of  Alexandria,  the  head  of  the  famous  Christian 
school  there.  Egypt  was  the  home  of  the  early 
apocryphal  gospels  of  the  Hebrews  and  of  the 
Egyptians,  which  were  evidently  in  use  in  Egypt 
by  A.D.  150,  before  the  four  Gospels  were  intro- 
duced there  and  gradually  superseded  them. 
The  loss  of  his  famous  work  called  the  Outlines, 
which  contained  accounts  of  the  books  of  scrip- 
ture, impairs  our  view  of  Clement's  position  on 
scripture,  but  from  his  other  works  we  can  see 
that  he  accepted  a  larger  list  of  New  Testament 
books  than  was  accepted  at  Rome.  He  knew  the 
four  Gospels  and  regarded  them  as  scripture; 
but  he  was  also  acquainted  with  the  gospels  of 
the  Hebrews  and  of  the  Egyptians  and  the 
Traditions  of  Matthias,  though  he  did  not 
think  of  them  as  scripture.  His  list  of  Paul's 
letters  included  not  only  the  ten  of  the  original 
list  and  the  three  Pastorals,  I  and  II  Timothy, 


and  Titus,  but  also  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews. 
This  raised  the  number  of  Pauline  letters  to 
fourteen. 

Besides  the  four  Gospels  and  these  fourteen 
letters  of  Paul,  Clement  also  accepted  an  en- 
larged body  of  general  letters,  for  he  accepted 
not  only  I  Peter,  I  and  II  John,  and  Jude,  but 
also  I  Clement  and  Barnabas,  as  works  of 
apostolic  authority.  We  remember  that  I  and  II 
Clement  stand  at  the  end  of  the  New  Testament 
in  the  Alexandrian  manuscript  of  the  fifth  cen- 
tury, and  that  Barnabas  follows  the  Revelation 
of  John  in  the  Sinaitic  manuscript  of  the  fourth. 
These  are  our  oldest  complete  manuscripts  of 
the  Greek  New  Testament.  They  evidently 
reflect  Egyptian  canons  of  the  fourth  and  fifth 
centuries. 

Clement  has  a  striking  list  of  apocalypses 
in  his  scripture,  for  he  accepted  not  only  the 
Revelation  of  John,  but  also  that  of  Peter  and 
the  Shepherd  of  Hermas.  The  Shepherd  had 
been  written  in  Rome  and  was  at  first  highly 
prized  there;  but  the  prophetic  pretensions  of 
Montanism  soon  led  to  its  eclipse.  What 
Clement  thought  of  the  Acts  is  not  entirely 
clear.  He  used  it  freely  and  spoke  of  it  as  the 
work  of  Luke.  In  fact,  he  used  it  very  much  as 
he  did  the  general  letters,  taking  its  acceptance 
for  granted. 

But  Clement  also  made  free  use  of  the  so- 
called  Preaching  of  Peter,  perhaps  the  earliest 
of  Christian  apologies.  "Peter  says  in  his  Preach- 
ing" is  the  way  Clement  quotes  it.  He  once 
quotes  a  line  from  the  Teaching  of  the  Apostles 
as  scripture,  and  cites  as  scripture  other  ancient 
sayings  which  are  otherwise  unknown.  So  we 
are  unable  to  define  his  canon  sharply.  He  had 
no  such  rigid  list  of  New  Testament  books  as 
the  churches  of  Rome  and  Africa  had  in  his 
day.  He  shows  the  New  Testament  scripture 
not  yet  fully  formed  in  Egypt,  but  in  process  of 
formation. 

IV.  The  Times  of  Origen 

Severus'  persecution  in  A.D.  202  forced  so 
many  Christian  leaders  out  of  Alexandria  that 
a  youth  of  eighteen  named  Origen  became  head 
of  the  Christian  school  there,  and  for  more 
than  fifty  years  he  wrote  and  taught,  first  in 
Alexandria  and  later  in  Caesarea.  A  rich  friend 
named  Ambrosius  in  later  years  provided  him 
with  such  a  number  of  stenographers  and  copy- 
ists that  everything  he  wrote  was  immediately 
published,  and  so  Origen  became  the  most 
voluminous  of  Christian  writers.  He  realized 
the  confusion  in  the  churches  about  the  precise 
contents  of  the  New  Testament,  and  while  he 
did  not  seek  to  settle  the  problem,  he  analyzed 
it  by  classifying  the  canonical  books  as  "ac- 
cepted" or  "disputed."  The  accepted  or  ac- 


65 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


knowledged  books—that  is,  accepted  by  all 
churches — were  twenty-two  in  number:  the  four 
Gospels,  fourteen  letters  of  Paul,  the  Acts  of 
the  Apostles,  two  general  letters  (I  Peter  and 
I  John) ,  and  one  apocalypse  (the  Revelation 
of  John) .  We  know  that  Hebrews  was  not  yet 
accepted  in  the  West,  but  Origen  included  it  in 
his  list  of  acknowledged  books  nevertheless. 

Origen 's  own  New  Testament,  however,  was 
larger  than  this;  it  included  also  the  "disputed" 
books,  that  is,  some  books  which  he  knew  some 
churches  did  not  accept.  These  were  James,  II 
and  III  John,  Jude,  II  Peter,  and  Barnabas. 
James  and  II  Peter  appear  first  in  the  New 
Testament  in  this  "disputed"  list.  And  to  the 
Revelation  of  John,  Origen  added  the  Shepherd 
of  Hernias,  so  that  the  contents  of  his  own  New 
Testament,  comprising  both  the  acknowledged 
and  the  disputed  books,  were  therefore  exactly 
those  of  the  Sinaitic  manuscript,  the  oldest 
complete  Greek  Testament  known,  written 
about  a  century  after  Origen's  death,  which 
ends  with  Barnabas  and  the  Shepherd  oi 
Hermas. 

Origen's  Roman  contemporary  Hippolytus 
(ca.  235) ,  however,  was  more  conservative.  Like 
his  teacher  Irenaeus,  Hippolytus  accepted  as  his 
New  Testament  only  twenty-two  books.  He  did 
not  accept  Hebrews  as  one  of  the  letters  of  Paul, 
and  included  only  three  general  letters  (I  Peter, 
I  and  II  John)  and  one  apocalypse,  that  of 
John,  in  his  New' Testament.  Yet  Hippolytus 
knew  and  used  a  number  of  other  Christian 
books  which  were  sometimes  included  by  others 
— Hebrews,  the  Shepherd,  the  Revelation  of 
Peter,  II  Peter,  the  Acts  of  Paul,  James,  and 
Jude. 

The  Roman  church  had  always  been  a  Greek 
church,  and  it  was  so  still  in  the  days  of  Hip- 
polytus. But  he  was  the  last  Roman  father  to 
write  in  Greek.  About  the  middle  of  the  third 
century  we  find  Novatian  of  Rome  and  Cyprian 
of  Carthage  writing  to  each  other  in  Latin,  and 
Latin  remained  thenceforth  the  language  of  the 
church  at  Rome.  Their  letters  and  treatises 
show  that  they,  like  Hippolytus,  still  held  the 
primitive  Roman  canon  of  twenty-two  books, 
unshaken  by  the  example  of  the  Alexandrian 
fathers,  Clement  and  Origen. 

Origen  was  driven  from  Alexandria  by  his 
own  bishop  in  A.D.  230,  and  withdrew  to 
Caesarea;  a  year  later  Dionysius  became  head 
of  the  famous  school  at  Alexandria,  continuing 
in  that  position  until  A  D.  247,  when  he  became 
bishop  of  Alexandria.  His  episcopate  lasted  for 
seventeen  years,  A.D.  247-264,  and  he  met  the 
troubled  situation  of  his  times  with  such  skill 
and  vigor  that  lie  came  to  be  considered 
Dionysius  the  Great.  He  wrote  about  the  Reve- 
lation of  John  with  such  penetration  and  force 


that  he  considerably  modified  Eastern  opinion 
of  it;  for  while  he  had  the  highest  esteem  for 
the  book,  he  could  not  agree  that  it  was  written 
by  the  author  of  the  Gospel  of  John.  This  keen 
perception  of  his  led  to  the  rejection  of  the 
Revelation  by  a  large  part  of  the  Eastern 
church;  of  the  manuscripts  of  the  Greek  Testa- 
ment extant  today  about  two  thirds  omit  it. 

V.  Eusebius  of  Caesarea 

A  few  years  later  the  Christian  library  estab- 
lished at  Caesarea  by  Pamphilus  was  visited  and 
studied  by  Eusebius,  who  afterward  became 
bishop  of  Caesarea,  attended  the  Council  of 
Nicaea  in  325,  and  wrote  a  life  of  Constantine. 
In  his  great  Church  History,  completed  in  A.D. 
326,  he  fortunately  included  an  account  of  the 
principal  writers  and  writings  of  the  three 
preceding  centuries,  particularly  where  they 
spoke  on  the  books  of  the  New  Testament.  He 
was  well  aware  of  the  wide  disagreement  among 
churches  and  Christian  leaders  as  to  just  what 
books  should  be  included  in  the  canon,  and  he 
followed  Origen  in  seeking  to  organize  the 
whole  body  of  such  literature  in  such  a  way  as 
to  do  justice  to  all  sides.  But  while  he  followed 
Origen's  division  of  the  books  into  "acknowl- 
edged" and  "disputed,"  he  divided  the  latter 
class  into  those  that  he  accepted  and  those  that 
he  rejected.  In  order  to  find  his  own  New  Testa- 
ment list,  therefore,  we  must  take  his  "acknowl- 
edged" list  and  add  to  it  the  books  in  his  "dis- 
puted" list  which  he  did  not  call  "rejected.0 

Eusebius  accepted  the  four  Gospels  and  the 
Acts,  fourteen  letters  of  Paul  (including  He- 
brews) ,  I  John,  I  Peter.  Of  the  disputed  books, 
Eusebius  accepted  James,  Jude,  II  Peter,  II  and 
III  John,  and  as  he  put  it,  "if  it  really  seem 
proper,"  the  Revelation  of  John.  This  lingering 
doubt  about  the  Revelation  echoes  the  suspicion 
Dionysius  had  raised  two  generations  before. 
It  means  much,  however,  that  Eusebius  admitted 
the  Revelation  to  his  "acknowledged"  list. 
These  built  up  his  own  New  Testament  to  just 
the  proportions  of  ours  today. 

The  disputed  books  which  Eusebius  listed  as 
"rejected"  were  the  Acts  of  Paul,  the  Shepherd, 
the  Revelation  of  Peter,  the  Letter  of  Barnabas, 
the  Teaching  of  the  Apostles.  In  referring  to  the 
Revelation  of  John,  after  acknowledging  it  "if 
it  seem  proper,"  he  adds,  "which  some  reject, 
but  which  some  class  with  the  accepted  books." 

He  has  another  list  of  books  definitely  heret- 
ical, such  as  the  Gospel  of  Peter,  the  Gospel  of 
Thomas,  the  Traditions  of  Matthias,  the  Acts  of 
Andrew,  and  the  Acts  of  John.  His  objection  to 
these  books  was  that  they  were  not  of  apostolic 
origin,  such  origin  being  decided  on  the  basis 
of  use  by  earlier  church  writers  and  freedom 
from  schismatic  bias. 


66 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


VI.  Egypt  in  the  Fourth  Century 

A.  The  Clermont  Manuscript  List. — In  the 
Codex  Claromontanus,  a  sixth-century  Greek- 
Latin  manuscript  of  Paul's  letters,  some  scribe 
inserted,  just  before  Hebrews,  a  Latin  list  of  the 
books  of  the  Old  and  New  Testaments.  One 
gathers  from  its  contents  that  it  must  have  been 
translated    from    a    Greek   list    of    the    books 
recognized  as  scripture  in  Egypt  about  A.D.  300. 
It  includes  the  four  Gospels  and  ten  letters  of 
Paul   (evidently  skipping  Philippians,  I  and  II 
Thessalonians,  and  probably  Hebrews  by  mis- 
take) .  It  goes  on  with  eight  general  letters   (I 
and  II  Peter,  James,  I,  II,  and  III  John,  Jude, 
and  Barnabas) .  The  list  ends  with  three  apoca- 
lypses and  two  books  of  acts — the  Revelation  of 
John,  the  Acts  of  the  Apostles,  the  Shepherd  of 
Hermas,  the  Acts  of  Paul,  the  Revelation  of 
Peter.  But  a  later  hand  has  put  a  dash  before 
I  Peter   (probably  to  indicate  that  the  general 
letters  began  with  it) ,  and  before  Barnabas,  the 
Shepherd,  the  Acts  of  Paul,  and  the  Revelation 
of  Peter    (probably  on  the  ground  that  these 
four  were  of  questionable  canonicity) .  Here  we 
have  plainly  reflected  a  time  when  there  was  a 
group  of  books  on  the  very  edge  of  the  New 
Testament,   about   which   agreement  had  not 
been  reached. 

B.  Athanasius. — This  great  bishop  of  Alex- 
andria,   in    his    annual    Easter    letter    to    the 
churches  of  his  diocese  in  A.D.  367,  gave  a  list 
of  the  books  of  scripture.  His  New  Testament 
consisted  of  the  four  Gospels,  the  Acts,  seven 
general  letters,  James,  I  and  II  Peter,  I,  II,  and 
III  John,  and  Jude;  fourteen  letters  of  Paul 
(including  Hebrews) ,  and  the  Revelation  of 
John.    This    is    just    our    canon    today.    But 
Athanasius  adds  a  supplementary  list  of  books 
"to  be  read  by  those  just  coming  forward  to 
receive  oral  instruction  in  religion."  Of  these, 
five  are  from  the  Apocrypha,  the  others  being 
the  Teaching  of  the  Apostles  and  the  Shepherd 
of  Hermas.  Athanasius  had  made  use  of  the 
Shepherd  in  his  early  writings,   but  by  367, 
when  he  was  more  than  seventy  years  old,  he 
had  given  up  the  idea  that  it  could  be  regarded 
as  scripture.  Athanasius'  visits  to  the  West  had 
restored  his  confidence  in  the  Revelation  of 
John,  though  even  there  the  Gothic  New  Testa- 
ment of  Ulfilas,   a  younger  contemporary  of 
Athanasius,  did  not  include  it. 

C.  Coptic  New  Testaments. — Of  the  Coptic 
versions,  the  oldest,  the  Sahidic,  which  began 
to  take  shape  between  A.D.  250  and  350,  con- 
tained all  the  books  of  Athanasius*  canon.  But 
the  Shepherd  and  I  Clement  also  passed  very 
early  into  Sahidic,  and  may  have  been  regarded 
as  scripture  in  Sahidic  circles.  The  Acts  of  Paul 
was  also  translated  into  an  Akhmimic-Sahidic 


version,    which   was    until    recently    the    chief 
source  of  its  text. 

D.  Greek  Uncial  Codices. — Our  three  oldest 
and  most  complete  manuscripts  of  the  Greek 
New  Testament  also  throw  some  light  on  the 
New  Testament  in  Egypt  in  the  fourth  and  fifth 
centuries.  The  oldest  of  them,  the  Vatican 
Codex,  unfortunately  breaks  off  at  Heb.  9:14, 
so  we  cannot  tell  what  books  it  may  have  had  at 
the  end.  The  Sinaitic  Codex,  written  around 
A.D.  350  or  soon  after,  ends  with  Barnabas  and 
the  Shepherd  of  Hermas,  breaking  off  about  one 
fourth  of  the  way  through  the  Shepherd.  The 
Alexandrian  Codex  of  the  fifth  century  con- 
tains I  and  II  Clement  after  the  Revelation  of 
John,  but  breaks  off  a  little  past  the  middle  of 
II  Clement.  There  was  evidently  uncertainty  in 
Egypt  about  the  precise  contents  of  the  New 
Testament  even  after  the  statement  of  Atha- 
nasius in  A.D.  367.  But  later  manuscripts  settled 
down  on  the  Athanasian  list,  except  for  the 
Revelation,  which  only  about  one  third  of  the 
Greek  manuscripts  of  the  whole  New  Testament 
included. 

VIL  The  Syriac  New  Testament 

A.  Tatian. — No  less  ancient  in   its   origins 
than  the  Latin  New  Testament  was  the  Syriac 
version,  which  had  grown  up  and  come  to  be 
accepted  in  the  native  church  of  Syria.  There 
Tatian,  soon  after  A.D.  170,  had  put  forth  a 
Syriac    harmony    of    the    Gospels    called    the 
Diatessaron.  The  Greek  church  of  Antioch  took 
measures  a  generation  later  to  introduce  the 
four  separate  Gospels  into  Syriac  Christianity, 
but  the  Diatessaron  maintained  its  ascendancy 
for  almost  two  centuries  longer.  We  know  this 
because  it  is  the  form  of  the  Gospels  in  the 
New  Testament  set  forth  in  the  fourth  century 
Teaching  of  Addai.  This  work  regards  as  also 
canonical  only  the  letters  of  Paul  and  the  Acts 
of   the   Apostles.   Syriac   Christianity  was   evi- 
dently behind  the  Greek  and  Latin  churches 
in  the  forming  of  its  New  Testament. 

B.  Afrahat  and  Efrem. — About  the  middle  of 
the  fourth  century  Afrahat  accepted  the  Diates- 
saron, the  fourteen  letters  of  Paul,  with  perhaps 
also  the  apocryphal  III  Corinthians,  and  the 
Acts  of  the  Apostles.  In  the  third  quarter  of 
the  fourth  century  Efrem,   a  great  figure  in 
Syriac  Christianity,  had  the  same  New  Testa- 
ment canon,  and  wrote  a  commentary  on  the 
Diatessaron  and  the  fifteen  letters  of  Paul,  in- 
cluding III  Corinthians.  In  fact  this  last  book 
was  carried  over  from  Syriac  into  the  ancient 
Armenian  canon.  Efrem  knew  other  books  ac- 
cepted elsewhere  as  canonical,  as  well  as  the 
four  separate  Gospels,  but  the  seventeen  books 
listed  above  formed  his  New  Testament.  That 
the  four  separate  Gospels,  however,  were  gradu- 


67 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


ally  coming  into  favor  in  the  Syrian  churches  is 
confirmed  by  a  Syriac  canon  list  of  about  A.D. 
400,  which  consists  of  the  four  separate  Gospels, 
the  Acts,  and  fourteen  letters  of  Paul,  and  ends 
with  the  words,  "This  is  all."  Evidently  the 
Diatessaron  and  III  Corinthians  are  on  the  way 
out. 

C.  Rabbula  and  the  Peshitta  New  Testament. 
— A  marked  revision  of  the  text  and  contents  of 
the  Syriac  New  Testament  took  place  after  A,D. 
411,  when  Rabbula  became  bishop  of  Edessa 
(411-85).  The  result  was  the  Peshitta  New 
Testament,  which  from  that  time  on  was  the 
authorized  form  in  Syriac  circles.  It  exists  in 
many  manuscripts,  some  from  the  fifth  and  sixth 
centuries,  and  includes  the  four  Gospels,  the 
Acts,  three  general  letters  (James,  I  Peter,  I 
John)  and  fourteen  letters  of  Paul.  The  sub- 
stitution of  the  new  scripture  for  the  old  was 
systematically  carried  out.  When  Theodoret 
became  bishop  of  Cyrrhus  on  the  Euphrates  in 
423,  he  made  it  his  business  to  collect  two  hun- 
dred copies  of  the  Diatessaron  from  his  churches 
and  put  the  four  separate  Gospels  in  their  place. 
This  work  of  substitution  was  so  complete  that 
no  copy  of  the  Syriac  Diatessaron  has  yet  been 
found.  As  a  result,  the  Peshitta  became  almost 
at  once  the  prevalent  New  Testament  in  Syria, 
for  in  the  Syrian  schisms  of  431  and  489  it  was 
accepted  by  both  sides,  and  in  all  the  subse- 
quent centuries  the  Syrians  have  carried  it  with 
them  in  their  migration  over  the  world. 

D.  Later  Syriac  Versions, — To  be  sure  the 
Peshitta  underwent  a  series  of  revisions,  the 
first  of  them  (the  Philoxenian)  made  in  A.D. 
508  by  a  certain  Polycarp  for  a  west  Syrian 
bishop  named  Philoxenus,  for  whom  the  version 
was  named.  Being  based  on  Greek  manuscripts, 
it  conformed  to  the  Greek  New  Testament 
canon,  and  included  all  seven  general  letters 
and  even  the  Revelation  of  John.  Again  in  A.D. 
616,  this  version  was  itself  revised  at  Alexandria 
by  Thomas  of  Harkel,  on  the  basis  of  the  Greek 
text.  He  naturally  retained  the  Greek  canon  of 
scripture  which  he  found  in  Philoxenus'  ver- 
sion. In  the  sixth  century  another  Syriac  version 
was  made,  probably  through  agencies  sponsored 
by  Antioch,  the  Greek  center  of  Syrian  Chris- 
tianity. The  new  version  appeared  in  the  Pales- 
tinian dialect  of  Syriac  which  prevailed  about 
Antioch,  and  while  we  know  it  chiefly  from  the 
readings  given  in  church  lesson  books,  it  is 
clear  that  it  contained  not  only  the  four  Gospels, 
the  Acts,  and  fourteen  letters  of  Paul,  but  also 
I  and  II  Peter  and  I  John,  and  hence  probably 
all  seven  of  the  general  letters.  It  did  not  con- 
tain the  Revelation,  however.  The  version  was 
revived  in  the  eleventh  century,  and  from  this 
period  most  of  the  surviving  manuscripts  of  it 
come.  In  the  twelfth  century  Dionysius  bar 


Salibi  wrote  a  commentary  on  the  Revelation, 
but  in  spite  of  this  tacit  acceptance  of  that  book, 
and  despite  the  three  versions  just  mentioned, 
the  Peshitta  continued  to  pre\ail  among  the 
Syrians  as  they  scattered  over  the  world,  and 
it  has  never  admitted  the  other  four  general 
letters  nor  the  Revelation  to  its  canon. 

FIJI.  The  Work  of  the  Councils 

The  church  councils  did  not  so  much  form 
the  New  Testament  canon  as  recognize  views 
about  it  that  had  taken  shape  in  church  usage. 
In  A.D.  363  the  Synod  of  Laodicea  in  Asia 
Minor  forbade  in  Canon  59  the  reading  of 
uncanonical  books.  Canon  60,  giving  a  list  of 
canonical  books,  is  probably  a  later  addition, 
though  from  the  fourth  century.  It  contains  all 
the  books  of  our  present  New  Testament  except 
the  Revelation.  The  Council  of  Hippo  in  Africa 
in  A.D.  393  gives  exactly  our  present  list  of 
twenty-seven  books  as  scripture.  The  Synod  of 
Carthage  in  A.D.  397  gives  our  present  list  of 
New  Testament  books,  but  adds  that  on  mar- 
tyrs* days  their  martyrdoms  may  be  read.  The 
next  Council  of  Carthage,  A.D.  419,  repeats  the 
list  previously  given,  simply  shifting  Hebrews 
into  the  Pauline  list. 

The  fathers  of  the  fourth  and  fifth  centuries 
differed  among  themselves  about  the  unsettled 
status  of  Hebrews,  the  general  letters,  and  the 
Revelation.  Chrysostom  (ft.  407),  the  greatest 
of  the  Greek  preachers,  the  presbyter  of  Antioch 
who  became  patriarch  of  Constantinople,  re- 
flects his  Syrian  origin  in  his  canon,  which  in- 
cludes only  the  twenty-two  books  of  the 
Peshitta  canon.  Theodoret  of  Cyrrhus  (A.D. 
386-458)  had  the  same  Antiochian  canon  as 
Chrysostom.  But  another  man  of  Antioch,  Theo- 
dore of  Mopsuestia  (ft.  428) ,  had  no  general 
letters  (as  well  as  no  Revelation)  in  his  New 
Testament,  standing  with  the  Syriac  canon  of 
about  A.D.  400  already  mentioned.  Gregory  of 
Nazianzus  (A.D.  329-89)  accepted  the  seven 
general  letters,  but  not  the  Revelation,  agreeing 
with  the  (supposed)  Canon  60  of  the  Synod 
of  Laodicea,  and  the  later  list  of  sixty  canonical 
books.  Amphilochius  of  Iconium  (ft.  394)  ac- 
cepted four  Gospels,  the  Acts,  fourteen  letters 
of  Paul;  his  statement  continues:  "Of  general 
letters,  some  say  seven,  others  only  three,  one 
of  James,  one  of  Peter,  and  one  of  John.  .  .  . 
The  Revelation  of  John  some  accept  but  the 
majority  call  it  uncanonical."  It  was  in  his  day 
that  the  first  Latin  father  we  know  of  accepted 
Hebrews— Hilary  of  Poitiers  (ft.  367).  But 
Amphilochius  concurs  with  Chrysostom,  Theo- 
dore, and  Gregory  in  refusing  to  accept  the 
Revelation.  As  we  have  seen,  this  is  the  position 
of  the  great  majority  of  Greek  manuscripts  of 
the  New  Testament. 


68 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


In  fact,  the  Revelation  divided  the  church  in 
the  East  late  in  the  fourth  century,  when  Basil 
(ft.  379) ,  Gregory  of  Nyssa  (ft.  ca.  394) ,  and 
Epiphanius  of  Constantia  in  Cyprus  (ft.  403) 
followed  Athanasius  in  accepting  the  Revela- 
tion. Of  the  four  "doctors"  of  the  Eastern 
church  (Gregory  of  Nazianzus,  Athanasius, 
Chrysostom,  and  Basil) ,  two  accepted  the  Reve- 
lation and  two  rejected  it.  Even  today  the 
Greek  church  uses  no  readings  from  the  Revela- 
tion in  its  church  lessons. 

The  West  meanwhile  questioned  not  the 
Revelation  but  Hebrews.  In  the  middle  of  the 
third  century,  as  we  have  seen,  Western  Chris- 
tianity was  still  refusing  Hebrews  and  all  but 
three  general  letters — I  Peter,  I  and  II  John. 
The  Eastern  churches  were  going  on,  especially 
in  Alexandria,  to  a  larger  New  Testament;  and 
this  fuller  canon  gradually  penetrated  the  West 
as  well.  A  North  African  list  of  about  A.D.  359, 
a  hundred  years  after  Cyprian,  contained  all  of 
our  New  Testament  except  Hebrews,  James, 
and  Jude.  Hilary  of  Poitiers  (ft.  367),  Am- 
brosiaster  (the  times  of  Damasus,  366-84) , 
Lucifer  of  Cagliari  (ft.  371),  and  Priscillian  of 
Saragossa  (ft.  385)  accepted  Hebrews  as  part  of 
the  New  Testament.  Pelagius  of  Britain  (ca. 
410)  did  not  include  it  among  Paul's  letters, 
but  the  authority  of  Ambrose,  Rufinus,  Jerome, 
and  Augustine  assured  its  acceptance  in  the 
West.  For  Jerome  put  it  into  his  Vulgate  Latin 
version,  begun  in  A.D.  382,  though  he  admitted 
that  "the  custom  of  the  Latins"  did  not  accept 
it.  Augustine  was  doubtful  about  its  being  the 
work  of  Paul,  but  admitted  that  he  was  follow- 
ing the  Eastern  churches  in  accepting  it.  It  was 
his  influence  that  led  the  councils  of  Hippo 
(393)  and  Carthage  (397,  419)  to  put  it  into 
their  New  Testaments. 

IX.  Further  Developments 

The  full  list  of  seven  general  letters  was  even 
more  reluctantly  accepted  in  the  West.  Hilary, 
Lucifer,  and  Ambrose  accepted  three  or  four  of 
these  letters,  while  Rufinus,  Augustine,  and 
Jerome  acknowledged  all  seven.  The  work  of 
Jerome  in  producing  the  authoritative  Vulgate 
version  at  the  instance  of  Pope  Damasus  I  had 
of  course  the  effect  of  fixing  the  New  Testa- 
ment canon  of  twenty-seven  books  for  Latin 
Christianity. 

The  papal  decretals  of  Damasus,  Gelasius, 
and  Hormisdas,  all  now  known  to  be  from  the 
sixth  century,  reflect  this  Vulgate  canon,  though 
in  A.D.  560,  Cassiodorus  found  and  copied  from 
some  old  book  a  New  Testament  list  of  twenty- 
two  books  just  like  that  of  the  Peshitta — a  fact 
to  be  accounted  for  perhaps  by  the  origin  of  his 
family  in  Syria. 

Improvements  in  book  forms  in  the  Latin 


world  helped  to  establish  this  canon,  for  while 
the  Greeks  very  seldom  produced  a  one-volume 
New  Testament,  Latin  scribes  had  no  difficulty 
in  doing  so,  and  such  manuscript  copies  of  the 
New  Testament  in  Latin  became  very  numer- 
ous. In  Greek,  however,  the  Gospels  were  likely 
to  form  one  volume,  the  letters  of  Paul  another, 
the  Acts  and  general  letters  a  third,  and  the 
Revelation  a  fourth.  Indeed,  Leontius  of  By- 
zantium, lecturing  in  Jerusalem  in  A.D.  530,  says 
the  New  Testament  consists  of  six  volumes — 
Matthew-Mark,  Luke-John,  Acts,  the  seven  gen- 
eral letters,  the  letters  of  Paul,  and  the  Re  vela 
tion.  In  both  Greek  and  Latin  churches  the 
Athanasian  canon  of  twenty-seven  books  had 
prevailed. 

While  the  Syrian  church  steadfastly  main- 
tained its  short  canon  of  twenty-two  books,  the 
influence  of  Alexandria  had  made  itself  felt  in 
the  Ethiopic  canon  of  thirty-five  books,  our 
twenty-seven  being  supplemented  by  the  so- 
called  "Clement"  and  the  Synodus — "Clement" 
including  among  other  things  an  expanded 
form  of  the  Revelation  of  Peter,  which,  as  we 
have  seen,  had  found  a  place  in  the  Muratorian 
canon,  in  that  of  Clement,  in  the  Clermont  list 
and  in  other  ancient  canons.  A  somewhat  sim- 
ilar appendix  to  the  New  Testament  is  men- 
tioned in  a  Greek  list  (ca.  A.D.  400)  of  New 
Testament  books  which  contained  eight  books 
of  the  Apostolical  Constitutions — condensations 
of  church  law  which  it  was  convenient  to  have 
copied  with  the  New  Testament  scriptures.  But 
after  the  sixth  century  nothing  more  is  heard  of 
this  appendix  in  Greek  circles. 

The  Middle  Ages  made  no  changes  in  these 
three  standard  canons,  Greek-Latin,  Syriac,  and 
Ethiopic,  though  some  incidents  are  of  interest. 
In  the  sixth  century  Andreas  of  Caesarea  in 
Cappadocia  wrote  a  commentary  on  the  Revela- 
tion of  John,  which  he  evidently  considered  a 
New  Testament  book.  This  was  the  first  com- 
mentary on  Revelation  written  in  the  East.  In 
the  same  century  Cosmas,  called  Indicopleustes 
because  of  his  voyages  to  the  shores  of  India, 
reported  that  in  Syria  only  three  general  letters 
were  accepted,  and  he  himself  regarded  all 
seven  with  suspicion.  A  ninth-century  list  bear- 
ing the  name  of  Nicephorus  (ft.  828) ,  which 
gives  the  number  of  lines  (stick oi)  in  each 
book,  has  the  Revelation  in  its  "disputed"  list. 
On  the  other  hand,  Photius,  patriarch  of  Con- 
stantinople in  the  ninth  century,  in  the  collec- 
tion of  280  book  reviews  known  as  his  Bibli- 
otheca,  accepts  the  Revelation  as  part  of  the 
New  Testament. 

Another  ninth-century  figure,  Arethas  of 
Caesarea,  who  played  his  part  like  Photius  in 
the  Greek  revival  of  the  period,  expanded 
Andreas'  commentary  on  the  Revelation.  His 


69 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


commentary  accompanies  the  Revelation  in 
many  manuscripts,  for  example  in  the  Eliza- 
beth Day  McCormick  manuscript. 

In  the  West  Jerome's  Vulgate  version,  sup- 
ported as  it  was  by  Augustine,  came  slowly  into 
use,  not  establishing  its  supremacy  over  Old 
Latin  texts  until  the  ninth  century.  The  oddest 
variation  the  Western  canons  exhibit  is  the 
inclusion  in  about  a  hundred  manuscripts  of 
the  spurious  letter  to  the  Laodiceans,  a  mean- 
ingless string  of  Pauline  phrases,  probably  com- 
posed in  Greek,  but  extant  only  in  translation. 
It  is  found  in  Old  Latin  texts  as  well  as  Vulgate 
copies  from  the  sixth  century  down.  Jerome 
said  that  all  rejected  it;  but  the  Spanish  Pris- 
tillian  (ft.  385),  his  contemporary  Philaster 
of  Brescia,  and  Pope  Gregory  the  Great  (ca. 
900)  thought  it  a  genuine  work  of  Paul,  though 
not  scripture.  The  British  Alfric,  abbot  of  Cerne 
(989) ,  regarded  it  as  a  fifteenth  letter  of  Paul. 
John  of  Salisbury  (1165)  too  held  it  to  be 
Paul's.  It  was  translated  into  Old  English  and 
German,  and  followed  Galatians  in  all  the  High 
German  Bibles  from  1466  until  Luther,  while 
even  later  the  French  scholar  Faber  Stapulensis 
(ft.  1536)  listed  it  among  the  letters  of  Paul. 

Other  eddies  in  the  stream  of  scripture  trans- 
mission may  be  mentioned.  The  Visigoths 
brought  Ulfilas'  version  of  the  New  Testament 
to  Spain,  where  its  omission  of  the  Revelation 
was  denounced  in  the  fourth  Council  of  Toledo 
in  A.D.  633.  Some  Latin  New  Testaments  on 
the  other  hand  included  the  Shepherd  of 
Hennas  in  Latin.  But  in  1441  Pope  Eugene  IV 
reaffirmed  the  canon  of  Augustine  and  Jerome, 
including  the  Revelation  and  omitting  the 
Shepherd. 

In  the  Middle  Ages  the  Latin  Bible  passed 
still  more  definitely  into  the  hands  of  the  clergy. 
Translations  into  the  vulgar  tongues  were  gen- 
erally forbidden  in  the  thirteenth,  fourteenth, 
and  fifteenth  centuries,  the  church  presuming 
to  be  the  sole  interpreter  of  scripture.  Neverthe- 
less, a  German  Bible  translated  from  the  Latin 
in  the  fourteenth  century  began  to  appear  in 
print  in  1466,  and  Wycliffe's  English  version 
was  completed  in  1382.  Problems  of  authenticity 
and  canonicity  were  neglected  until  at  length 
in  1546  the  Council  of  Trent  definitely  shut 
the  door  on  any  further  inquiry.  It  was  Erasmus 
who  in  the  preface  to  his  Greek  Testament  in 
1516  broke  sharply  with  the  church  position 
and  called  for  translations  of  the  Bible  into  all 
the  vernaculars,  thus  inviting  the  work  of 
Luther  (1522)  and  Tyndale  (1525) . 

X.  New  Testament  Apocrypha 

The  term  Apocrypha — "secret"  or  "hidden" 
• — strictly  applies  only  to  the  books  of  the  Greek 
Old  Testament  which  Jerome  did  not  find  in 


70 


the  Hebrew  Old  Testament,  and  which  Luther 
actually  separated  and  printed  in  a  group  by 
themselves  in  his  translation  of  1534,  being  fol- 
lowed in  this  by  all  the  Protestant  English 
Bibles  from  Coverdale  to  the  King  James  Ver- 
sion. There  is  no  such  appendix  to  the  New 
Testament,  but  the  term  may  be  applied  to  a 
number  of  books,  one  or  more  of  which  have 
been  included  at  one  time  or  another  in  New 
Testament  manuscripts  or  in  lists  of  New 
Testament  books. 

The  Shepherd  of  Hernias  and  the  Revelation 
of  Peter  found  place  in  some  lists  or  manu- 
scripts. The  Shepherd  of  Hermas  in  a  Latin 
version  influenced  even  Dante  around  1300. 
From  the  time  of  its  completion  at  Rome  about 
A.D.  100,  the  Shepherd  was  very  popular.  It  was 
accepted  then  as  scripture.  In  Alexandria  too 
Clement  and  Origen  held  it  to  be  scripture,  as 
did  the  maker  of  the  original  of  the  Clermont 
list  in  Egypt  about  A.D.  300.  Eusebius  classed  it 
among  the  disputed  books  which  were  rejected. 
Athanasius  recommended  it  for  use  by  new 
converts,  but  did  not  admit  it  to  the  New 
Testament.  Yet  it  found  a  place  at  the  end  of 
the  New  Testament  in  the  Sinaitic  manuscript 
about  A.D.  350.  In  the  West  Irenaeus  held  it  to 
be  scripture,  as  did  Tertullian  at  first,  though 
he  later  repudiated  it.  The  Muratorian  writer 
definitely  excluded  it,  as  recently  written  and 
not  apostolic.  But  it  was  translated  early  into 
Latin,  and  in  the  Middle  Ages  was  often  copied 
as  part  of  the  Latin  Bible. 

The  Revelation  of  Peter  was  accepted  as 
scripture  by  the  Muratorian  writer  and  by 
Clement  of  Alexandria,  but  not  by  Hippolytus 
at  Rome.  Eusebius  placed  it  among  the  disputed 
and  rejected  books.  Sozomen  (ca.  450)  says  it 
was  read  annually  on  Good  Friday  in  the 
churches  of  Palestine  in  his  day.  It  stood  in  the 
Clermont  list,  but  with  a  dash,  perhaps  to 
cancel  it.  Another  work  bearing  the  name  of 
Peter,  the  Preaching  of  Peter,  was  accepted  by 
Clement  of  Alexandria  and  Heracleon,  but 
not  by  Origen  or  Eusebius. 

The  Teaching  of  the  Apostles  was  also  treated 
as  scripture  by  Clement,  but  not  by  Origen  or 
Eusebius.  Athanasius  said  it  might  be  read,  like 
the  Shepherd,  by  new  converts.  The  Letter  of 
Barnabas  was  accepted  by  Clement  and  Origen 
as  scripture  and  stands  after  the  Revelation  of 
John  in  the  Sinaitic  manuscript.  The  Clermont 
list  has  it  as  the  end  of  the  general  letters.  The 
"Stichometry  of  Nicephorus"  (850)  put  it 
among  the  disputed  books.  Jerome  thought  it 
was  written  by  Barnabas  but  was  not  scripture. 

The  letter  of  Clement  of  Rome  to  the  Corin- 
thians was  accepted  as  scripture  by  Clement  of 
Alexandria,  and  with  the  so-called  II  Clement 
found  a  place  at  the  end  of  the  Alexandrian 


THE  CANON  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


manuscript  of  the  New  Testament  and  in  a 
twelfth-century  Syriac  manuscript  of  the  New 
Testament.  The  Acts  of  Paul  found  a  place  in 
the  Clermont  list,  though  marked  off  with  a 
dash.  Laodiceans  appeared  in  some  Latin  New 
Testaments,  and  III  Corinthians  was  in  Efrem's 
Syriac  New  Testament  in  the  fourth  century. 
But  no  ancient  list  included  all  these  different 
documents. 

XI.  Selected  Bibliography 

GOODSPEED,  EDGAR  J.  The  Formation  of  the  New 
Testament.  Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
1927. 

GREGORY,  C.  R.  The  Canon  and  Text  of  the  New 
Testament.  Edinburgh:  T.  &  T.  Clark,  1907. 

HARNACK,  ADOLF  VON.  The  Origin  of  the  New  Testa- 


ment, tr.  J.  R.  Wilkinson.  New  York-  The  Mac- 

millan  Co.,  1925. 
JACQUIER,    EUGENE.   Le  Nouveau    Testament   dans 

r&glise  chretienne.  Paris:   Victor  Lecoffre,  1911. 

Vol.  I,  "Preparation,  formation,  et  definition  du 

canon  du  Nouveau  Testament." 
LEIPOLDT,  JOHANNES.  Geschichtc  des  neutestament- 

Itchen  Kanons.  Leipzig:  J.  C.  Hinrichs,  1907-8. 
MOORE,  E.  C.  The  New  Testament  in  the  Christian 

Church.  New  York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1904. 
SOUTER,  ALEXANDER.  The  Text  and  Canon  of  the 

New   Testament.  New  York:    Charles  Scribner's 

Sons,  1913. 
WESTCOTT,  B.  F.  A  General  Survey  of  the  History 

of  the  Canon  of  the  New  Testament.  London: 

Macmillan  &  Co.,  1866. 
ZAHN,   THEODOR.  Forschungen   zur  Geschichte   des 

neutestamentlichen   Kanons.   Erlangen:    A.   Dei- 
chert,  1881-1900. 


71 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS 
OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 

by  ERNEST  C.  COL  WELL 


I.  The  Nature  and  Origin  of  Variant  Readings 

A.  Amount  of  Disagreement  in  Variant  Read- 
ings 

B.  Variations  Created  by  Scribes 
1.  Harmonization 

2  Removal  of  Heresy 

3.  Clarification 

4.  Unintentional  Variation 

5.  Change  of  the  Rare  to  the  Familiar 

C.  Variations  Created  by  Editors 

D.  Variations  Created  by  Translators 

E.  Standardization  of  the  Text 

II.  Choosing  Between  Variant  Readings 

A.  Methods  Not  Now  Generally  Approved 

When  the  modern  minister  wishes  to  use  a 
New  Testament,  he  turns  to  a  printed  book. 
This  is  true  whether  he  reads  the  New  Testa- 
ment in  English,  French,  Russian,  or  Greek. 
He  knows — if  he  stops  to  think  about  it  at  all — 
that  the  early  Christians  had  no  printed  books 
but  used  handwritten  copies  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment. He  may  not  know  that  the  early  Chris- 
tian use  of  handwritten  books  is  reflected  even 
today  in  variations  in  the  content  of  the  various 
printings  of  the  New  Testament. 

L  The  Nature  and  Origin  of  Variant  Readings 

The  easiest  way  to  get  rid  of  variations  and 
to  attain  accuracy  would  be  to  print  from  the 
original  copy  of  each  book  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment, and  to  get  universal  agreement  to  use 
that  printing.  But  the  original  documents  are 
all  gone — sunk  without  a  trace  in  the  vast  and 
misty  sea  of  the  past.  From  time  to  time  the 
claim  is  made  that  an  "original"  has  been 
found.  St.  Mark's  Church  in  Venice  claimed  to 
possess  the  original  of  the  Gospel  of  Mark.  In- 
vestigation revealed  that  what  it  had  was  a 
copy  of  Jerome's  fourth-century  revision  of  a 
Latin  translation  of  the  Gospel  of  Mark. 

The  falsity  of  these  claims  to  possess  an 
"original"  can  easily  be  demonstrated  by  com- 
petent scholars.  Edgar  J.  Goodspeed  of  the 
University  of  Chicago  was  once  offered  the 
"original"  of  Pilate's  report  on  the  Crucifixion 


72 


1.  By  Custom 

2.  By  Majority  Vote 

3.  By  Date 

4.  By  Quality 

5.  By  Genealogy 

6.  By  Agreement  with  Church  Fathers 

7.  By  Geographical  Distribution 
B.  The  Best  Method  a  Triple  One 

1.  External  Study 

2.  Internal  Evidence 

3.  Conjectural  Emendation 

4.  Two  Illustrations 

III.  Summary 

IV.  Selected  Bibliography 

to  the  Emperor  Tiberius,  It  had  been  "dis- 
covered" in  an  Italian  city,  and  came  into  the 
hands  of  an  Italian  living  in  Schenectady,  New 
York.  Inspection  showed  that  the  parchment  on 
which  it  was  written  had  served  as  the  cover  of 
a  modern  book,  that  the  scribe  used  all  the 
modern  marks  of  punctuation,  that  the  ink  was 
still  on  the  surface  of  the  parchment,  that  the 
alphabet  employed  was  taken  from  modern 
Greek  printing  and  was  one  which  had  never 
been  employed  in  Greek  handwriting,  least  of 
all  in  the  first  century  A.D. 

The  originals  of  each  book  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment have  vanished.  There  is  nothing  surpris- 
ing in  this.  Many  of  these  books  were  in  all 
probability  written  on  papyrus,  which  is  no 
more  durable  than  modern  paper.  Moreover, 
they  were  written  to  be  read  at  group  meetings, 
not  to  be  deposited  in  archives.  They  were  read 
and  reread  until  they  were  worn  out.  Then 
they  were  discarded.  The  originals  had  been 
discarded  before  they  became  canonical. 

But  before  the  originals  were  discarded,  they 
were  copied.  Before  the  originals  were  worn 
out,  their  copies  had  been  copied,  some  of  them 
many  times.  Not  all  Christians  could  read,  but 
the  size  of  the  reading  public  of  the  Gospels, 
for  example,  was  not  limited  to  the  number  of 
literate  Christians.  In  that  ancient  world  read- 
ing meant  reading  aloud,  and  scores  of  illiterate 
Christians  could  hear  the  gospel  read.  The 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


"lessons"  from  the  Old  and  New  Testament  in 
our  church  service  today  go  back  to  this  ancient 
custom.  By  the  second  half  of  the  second  cen- 
tury this  custom  was  well  established. 

Almost  all  the  early  Christians  were  traveling 
salesmen  for  their  religion,  and  this  increased 
the  demand  for  copies  of  the  New  Testament 
books.  Imagine  a  citizen  of  Carthage  converted 
to  Christianity  while  on  a  trip  to  the  city  of 
Rome.  As  he  starts  back  to  Carthage,  the  mem- 
bers of  the  church — his  new-found  brothers — 
equip  him  with  helps  for  the  maintenance  and 
spread  of  his  faith.  These  helps  may  have  in- 
cluded some  books  of  the  "Bible"  (which  for 
them  was  the  Old  Testament  in  Greek)  and  a 
copy  of  the  Christian  Gospel  written  in  Rome 
by  one  of  their  own  number,  John,  who  was  also 
called  Mark.  This  last  would  be  copied  by 
amateur  scribes  whose  zeal  surpassed  their  abil- 
ity. To  them,  as  to  modern  ministers,  it  was  the 
gospel  that  mattered,  not  the  exact  wording. 
Thus  the  man  from  Carthage  went  back  home 
with  a  copy  of  Mark  which  differed  somewhat 
from  its  source. 

The  Christian  convert  from  Carthage  is  a 
product  of  imagination,  but  the  disagreement 
of  one  handwritten  copy  of  the  New  Testament 
from  another  handwritten  copy  is  not  imaginary. 
No  two  of  these  manuscripts  agree  completely. 
In  some  cases  the  disagreement  is  extensive. 
These  variations,  or  "variant  readings,"  create 
difficulties  for  the  modern  publisher  who  would 
like  to  print  an  edition  of  the  New  Testament. 
Before  he  begins  printing,  he  must  decide 
which  of  the  handwritten  copies  he  will  follow 
as  regards  those  points  where  they  disagree  with 
each  other.  The  editor  might  escape  this  ardu- 
ous task  if  these  disagreements  were  insignifi- 
cant in  number  or  in  nature.  It  does  not  take 
long  to  show  that  they  are  not. 

A.  Amount  of  Disagreement  in  Variant  Read' 
ings. — To  start  at  the  bottom  of  the  list  with 
the  least  significant  variants  we  note  those 
which  are  unique.  Each  manuscript  has  some 
readings  of  its  own  ("singular  readings") .  If  we 
were  to  compare  one  human  being  with  all  the 
rest  of  the  human  race,  we  would  find  some 
details  in  which  he  differed  from  all  other 
human  beings.  The  best  known  of  these  singu- 
lar items  is  his  fingerprints.  Thus  one  manu- 
script, when  compared  with  all  other  manu- 
scripts in  existence,  has  some  singular  readings, 
as  distinctive  as  fingerprints.  One  of  the  manu- 
scripts at  the  University  of  Chicago  contains 
only  the  Gospel  of  Mark.  But  in  this  Gospel  it 
lias  181  variant  readings  which  do  not  occur  in 
any  other  manuscript.1 

Or  take  another  approach  to  the  question  of 

*  University  of  Chicago  MS  972,  Gregory's  2427. 


the  amount  of  difference  between  these  New 
Testaments.  Any  person  compared  with  any 
other  person  will  differ  from  that  person  in 
various  ways.  Mr.  A  will  be  tall,  skinny,  dark, 
and  handsome.  Mr.  B  will  be  short,  fat,  blond, 
and  ugly.  The  range  of  difference  when  two 
people  are  compared  will  be  greater  than  that 
found  when  one  person  is  compared  with  the 
human  race.  Generally  speaking,  two  members 
of  the  same  family  differ  less  than  two  members 
of  the  same  tribe,  and  these  differ  less  than  in- 
habitants of  different  continents.  As  with  peo- 
ple, so  with  manuscripts.  Every  manuscript  in 
existence  differs  from  any  other  specific  manu- 
script in  a  large  number  of  passages.  The  range 
of  this  variation  is  quite  wide. 

Two  specific  manuscripts  that  are  members 
of  a  closely  related  family  differ  from  each  other 
in  matters  other  than  spelling  25  times  in  Mark, 
the  shortest  of  the  Gospels.2  Two  other  manu- 
scripts that  belong  to  the  same  type  of  text  but 
not  to  a  family  are  the  manuscripts  2427  and 
Vaticanus  (B) ,  members  of  the  Beta  text  type. 
In  the  Gospel  of  Mark  these  two  have  no  closer 
kin,  yet  they  differ  in  that  one  Gospel  873  times. 
Again,  two  manuscripts  that  belong  to  different 
text  types  may  differ  from  each  other  as  much 
as  14,040  times  in  the  four  Gospels.3  Although 
reduction  in  these  totals  might  be  required  to 
compensate  for  errors  in  computation,  the  totals 
are  still  impressive.  The  amount  of  variation  is 
large  enough  to  fatigue  the  memory  of  the 
student,  and  to  appall  the  prospective  editor. 

There  is  a  third  method  of  estimating  the 
amount  of  differences  between  copies  of  the 
New  Testament.  Suppose  one  wanted  a  record 
of  all  human  variations  from  some  one  stand- 
ard without  regard  to  the  number  of  people 
exhibiting  each  variation.  In  manuscript  study 
this  means  taking  some  one  form  of  the  New 
Testament  as  the  base  or  "text"  and  recording 
all  known  variations  from  it  in  what  is  called  a 
"critical  apparatus."  This  is  not  done  very 
often.  Konstantin  von  Tischendorf  did  it  in 
1869.  Again,  in  1913  Hermann  von  Soden 
printed  the  variations  from  his  Greek  New 
Testament.  The  listing  required  893  pages. 
Since  the  number  of  variations  listed  per  page 
ranges  from  39  to  61,  and  averages  more  than 
50,  one  estimates  that  von  Soden  knew  about 
45,000  different  readings  in  the  New  Testament 
which  he  regarded  as  worth  printing. 

The  extant  manuscripts,  most  of  them  as  yet 
unstudied  in  detail,  must  contain  several  times 
that  number.  The  vast  majority  of  these  will  be 

»  1219  and  H,  members  of  "Family  Pi." 

•Bezae  (D)  and  2427  differ  in  Mark  11  a  total  of 
117  times.  The  figure  given  in  the  text  is  an  estimate 
based  on  the  assumption  that  the  same  rate  of  variation 
would  hold  throughout  the  Gospels. 


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THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


rejected  by  any  editor.  This  may  console  the 
pious,  but  it  does  not  help  the  editor  who  has 
to  winnow  the  chaff  from  such  a  vast  heap 
before  he  begins  printing  his  New  Testament. 

B*  Variations  Created  by  Scribes. — Before  the 
publisher  can  make  an  intelligent  decision  be- 
tween these  numerous  variants,  he  has  to  study 
them  carefully  and  extensively.  To  help  him 
appraise  these  variants  scholars  group  them  in 
various  ways.  Some  of  these  classifications  are 
technical,  complicated,  and  obscure  to  the  be- 
ginner. To  make  as  clear  as  possible  the  nature 
of  these  variants,  we  may  classify  them  here  on 
the  basis  of  the  cause  of  the  particular  variation. 

1.  Harmonization. — The  desire  for  consistency 
created  many  of  these  variant  readings.  The 
Christian  scribe  expected  one  Gospel  to  agree 
with  another;  he  anticipated  that  a  New  Testa- 
ment book  would  agree  with  an  Old  Testament 
book.  Where  he  found  disagreement  or  incon- 
sistency in  the  manuscript  he  was  copying,  he 
automatically  assumed  that  it  was  in  error  and 
"corrected'*  the  error  by  bringing  the  divergent 
passages  into  harmony.  This  harmonization  is 
found  in  varying  degree  in  almost  all  manu- 
scripts, and  in  almost  all  the  books  of  the  New 
Testament.  It  is  commonest  in  the  first  three 
Gospels  because  they  have  the  largest  amount 
of  parallel  material. 

The  objective  situation  in  this  area  can  be 
described  as  follows:  92  per  cent  of  the  Gospel 
of  Mark  appears  in  the  Gospel  of  Matthew,  and 
much  more  than  half  of  it  appears  also  in  the 
Gospel  of  Luke.  In  some  copies  of  the  Gospels 
there  are  striking  variations  from  Gospel  to 
Gospel  in  these  parallel  passages.  In  other 
copies  of  the  Gospels  all  three  of  the  Gospels 
agree.  Since  we  know  from  a  study  of  the  church 
fathers  that  Matthew  was  much  more  popular 
than  Mark,  we  would  expect  to  find  Matthew's 
form  of  a  story  affecting  Mark's  form  of  the 
same  story.  Actually  examples  of  this  are  nu- 
merous. 

In  the  account  of  the  healing  of  the  man  with 
the  withered  hand,  Matthew's  Gospel  (12:13) 
reads,  "Then  he  said  to  the  man,  'Stretch  out 
your  hand.'  And  the  man  stretched  it  out,  and 
it  was  restored,  whole  like  the  other."  None  of 
the  copies  of  Matthew  conclude  otherwise  than 
"restored,  whole  like  the  other."  In  Mark's 
Gospel  (3:5) ,  most  copies,  including  all  the 
earliest  ones,  read,  "And  said  to  the  man, 
'Stretch  out  your  hand.'  He  stretched  it  out, 
and  his  hand  was  restored."  Other  copies  of 
Mark,  including  eleven  dating  from  the  seventh 
to  the  ninth  centuries,  add  "whole  like  the 
other."  Thus  they  agree  with  Matthew.  In 
Luke's  Gospel  (6:10)  some  copies  read,  "And 
he  did  so  and  his  hand  was  restored."  Many 
copies  add  the  word  "whole";  still  more  copies 


add  the  words  "like  the  other."  Since  there  is  no 
variation  in  Matthew,  we  assume  that  we  have 
Matthew's  original  wording,  "restored,  whole 
like  the  other."  In  Mark  and  Luke  we  assume 
that  the  text  originally  lacked  these  words  and 
that  they  were  added  to  harmonize  these  Gos- 
pels with  Matthew.  If  the  long  form  of  Mark 
and  Luke  is  assumed  to  be  original,  no  good 
reason  for  the  widespread  omission  can  be 
found.  If  it  is  said  that  omission  by  error  needs 
no  explanation,  the  answer  is  that  the  error 
did  not  occur  in  any  of  the  copies  of  Matthew, 
and  that  this  same  difference  between  copies  of 
Matthew  and  the  copies  of  Mark  and  Luke 
occurs  in  scores  of  other  passages. 

In  the  prediction  of  the  last  days,  Mark's  Gos- 
pel (13:14)  reads,  "But  when  you  see  the  deso- 
lating sacrilege  set  up  where  it  ought  not  to  be 
(let  the  reader  understand) ,  then  let  those  who 
are  in  Judea  flee  to  the  mountains."  The  verse 
appears  in  this  form  in  the  two  fourth-century 
copies  (B  and  tf)  that  Westcott  and  Hort 
favored,  in  the  fifth-century  Washington  manu- 
script of  the  Gospels  (W)  ,  in  the  contemporary 
but  frequently  divergent  Codex  Bezae  (D) ,  in 
the  oldest  copy  in  Syriac,  in  some  Old  Latin 
copies,  in  most  copies  of  Jerome's  Latin  Vul- 
gate, in  the  two  major  Egyptian  versions,  in  the 
Armenian  and  the  Old  Georgian,  in  an  ex- 
plicit statement  by  Augustine,  and  in  a  few 
other  copies.  But  the  overwhelming  majority  of 
the  copies  of  Mark  add  the  words  "spoken  of 
by  the  prophet  Daniel"  after  "sacrilege."  In 
Matt.  24:15-16  all  copies  agree  in  reading 
"sacrilege  spoken  of  by  the  prophet  Daniel."  In 
passages  where  Matthew  has  no  parallel  in 
Mark,  he  makes  frequent  reference  to  Old 
Testament  prophecy.  This  supports  the  judg- 
ment of  manuscript  students  that  the  appear- 
ance of  Daniel  in  some  copies  of  Mark  13:14  is 
due  to  harmonization  with  the  parallel  in  Mat- 
thew. The  student  of  the  English  Bible  can  ob- 
serve the  difference  by  comparing  the  King 
James  Version  in  these  passages  with  the  Re- 
vised Standard  Version  or  Goodspeed's  Ameri- 
can translation. 

In  these  examples  of  harmonization  we  see 
the  intentional  creation  of  variants.  This  is  not 
to  say  that  the  scribe  intended  to  create  a  new 
reading;  what  he  intended  was  the  correction 
of  what  he  mistakenly  identified  as  an  erroneous 
reading.  Reverence  for  scripture  was  a  help 
rather  than  a  hindrance  to  such  action.  The 
"errors"  which  harmonization  removed  were  in- 
consistencies or  disagreements  between  the  parts 
of  scripture.  More  serious  alleged  errors  were 
weeded  out  just  as  ruthlessly  by  many  scribes. 

2.  Removal  of  Heresy. — A  Christian  scribe 
copying  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  was  surprised  to 
find  Jesus  quoted  as  saying  that  the  exact  date 


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TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


of  the  end  of  the  world  was  a  secret  from  him, 
"But  of  that  day  and  hour  no  one  knows,  not 
even  the  angels  of  heaven,  nor  the  Son,  but  the 
Father  only"  (Matt.  24:36) .  The  scribe  knew 
that  "the  Son"  referred  to  Jesus;  he  knew  that 
Jesus  was  omniscient;  therefore  he  knew  that 
someone  had  made  a  mistake  in  writing  this 
sentence.  So  he  corrected  it  by  omitting  the 
words  "nor  the  Son."  In  making  this  change 
he  felt  sure  that  he  was  restoring  the  original 
reading.  Scholars  today  would  disagree  with 
him.  They  regard  the  absence  of  the  words 
"nor  the  Son1'  as  a  variation — albeit  an  early 
one — from  the  original  text  of  Matthew. 

In  Luke's  account  of  the  arrest  a  statement 
is  made  which  wounded  the  sensibilities  of 
some  devout  Christians.  "Also  other  criminals, 
two,  were  led  away  to  be  put  to  death  with 
him"  (Luke  23:32).  This  statement  is  made  in 
a  very  different  and  completely  innocuous  form 
in  the  Gospels  of  Matthew  and  Mark.  The 
Lukan  wording  with  its  implication  that  Jesus 
was  a  criminal  was  regarded  as  erroneous  by 
some  scribes.  They  avoided  this  implication 
by  changing  the  word  order  of  the  Greek  so  that 
it  read,  "Two  others  also,  who  were  criminals, 
were  led  away  to  be  put  to  death  with  him." 
Still  other  Christian  copyists  made  the  "correc- 
tion" sure  by  omitting  the  word  "criminals"  al- 
together, so  that  the  verse  reads,  "Also  two 
others  were  led  away  to  be  put  to  death  with 
him." 

5.  Clarification. — Reverence  for  the  Gospels 
supported  the  creation  of  another  class  of 
variations:  the  explanatory  notes.  These  may 
have  started  in  the  margins  of  the  book,  or  in 
parenthetical  expressions  written  between  the 
lines.  From  either  of  these  positions  they  could 
easily  move  into  the  text  itself.  One  scribe  who 
mistook  the  explanatory  note  for  a  "correction" 
of  the  text  would  be  enough  to  introduce  the 
new  reading.  In  fact,  explanation  and  correc- 
tion often  appear  in  the  same  position  on  the 
page;  thus  the  scribe's  mistake  was  an  easy  one 
to  make. 

In  Mark  4:11-12  the  American  Standard  Ver- 
sion reads:  "Unto  you  is  given  the  mystery  of 
the  kingdom  of  God:  but  unto  them  that  are 
without,  all  things  are  done  in  parables:  that 
seeing  they  may  see,  and  not  perceive;  and 
hearing  they  may  hear,  and  not  understand; 
lest  haply  they  should  turn  again,  and  it  should 
be  forgiven  them."  The  vague  reference  of  the 
impersonal  pronoun  "it"  in  "it  should  be  for- 
given them"  is  no  less  vague  in  the  Greek,  which 
has  the  verb  without  a  subject.  A  fair  number 
of  Greek  copies  of  Mark  have  the  passage  in 
this  obscure  form,  but  some  scribes  added  the 
words  "their  sins"  to  clear  up  the  passage.  This 


clearer  form  occurs  in  the  majority  of  the  copies, 
and  may  be  seen  in  the  King  James  Version: 
"and  their  sins  should  be  forgiven  them." 

In  John  5  the  story  is  told  of  a  healing  at  the 
pool  called  Bethesda.  In  the  form  of  the  story 
which  appears  in  a  score  of  early  witnesses  (in- 
cluding the  earliest  versions  and  some  very 
early  patristic  evidence)  the  sick  man's  answer 
to  Jesus  refers  to  things  which  were  undbubt- 
edly  clear  to  both  him  and  Jesus  but  could  not 
possibly  be  clear  to  later  generations  of  readers: 
"The  sick  man  answered  him,  'Sir,  I  have  no 
man  to  put  me  into  the  pool  when  the  water  is 
troubled,  and  while  I  am  going  another  steps 
down  before  me'  "  (John  5:7) .  Up  to  this  point 
nothing  has  been  said  as  to  the  nature  of  the 
troubling  of  the  water  or  the  importance  of 
being  first.  The  obscurity  is  cleared  up  in  the 
vast  mass  of  later  copies  by  the  addition  of  the 
following  explanatory  note  early  in  the  story 
(KJV;  RSV  mg.)  :  ".  .  .  waiting  for  the  moving 
of  the  water;  for  an  angel  of  the  Lord  went 
down  at  certain  seasons  into  the  pool,  and 
troubled  the  water:  whoever  stepped  in  first 
after  the  troubling  of  the  water  was  healed  of 
whatever  disease  he  had." 

4.  Unintentional  Variation. — The  three 
causes  of  variation  discussed  so  far  (harmoniza- 
tion, removal  of  heresy,  and  clarification)  are 
all  the  result  of  conscious  changes;  these  are 
what  are  called  intentional  variations.  But 
scribes  who  copied  the  New  Testament  were  as 
liable  to  human  weakness  as  scribes  who  copied 
Homer.  Like  Homer  himself,  they  occasionally 
nodded.  One  very  common  error  of  the  eye  led 
to  the  omission  of  a  passage  by  mistake.  If  two 
successive  lines  began  with  the  same  word,  the 
scribe's  eye  might  slip  from  one  to  the  other 
with  the  consequent  omission  of  a  line  of  text. 
This  occurred  in  very  early  manuscripts,  and  in 
late  medieval  copies.  In  most  copies,  Mark 
10:46  reads,  "And  they  came  to  Jericho;  and 
.  ..."  In  a  fourth-century  New  Testament,  the 
famous  Codex  Vaticanus  (B) ,  "And  they  came 
to  Jericho"  would  fill  one  line.  The  scribe's  eye 
jumped  to  the  "and"  which  began  the  next  line; 
so  "and  they  came  to  Jericho"  is  omitted  by 
this  manuscript.  This  copy  also  contains  ex- 
amples of  the  omission  of  a  line  due  to  the 
identity  of  its  ending  with  that  of  an  adjacent 
line  (homoeoteleuton) . 

Sometimes  the  scribe  skipped  over  a  word 
but  caught  his  error  before  he  reached  the  end 
of  the  sentence.  In  Greek,  word  order  is  very 
free.  Thus  the  scribe  could  insert  the  omitted 
word  as  soon  as  he  discovered  it  was  missing.  In 
this  way  he  created  a  variation  in  word  order. 
These  variations  are  often  without  significance 
for  meaning,  but  occasionally  affect  the  sense 


75 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


vitally.  Even  when  they  do  not  drastically  affect 
the  sense,  they  cause  difficulties  for  the  printer 
who  wants  to  publish  an  exact  copy  of  the  New 
Testament. 

The  fallibility  of  the  scribe's  eyesight  led  him 
to  duplicate  passages  as  well  as  to  omit  them. 
These  variations  are  usually  easily  identifiable 
as  errors.  The  scribe  who  wrote  the  Four  Gos- 
pels of  Karahissar,  a  thirteenth  century  copy  of 
the  Gospels  in  Greek,  duplicated  one  line  of 
the  genealogy  in  Matt.  1:15-16.  In  his  copy  we 
read,  "And  Matthan  begat  Jacob;  and  Jacob 
begat  Jacob;  and  Jacob  begat  Joseph.  .  .  ."  The 
frequent  repetition  of  the  verb  "begat"  misled 
him  into  the  repetition  of  "begat  Jacob;  and 
Jacob." 

In  a  few  passages  the  variation  is  of  such  a 
nature  that  it  can  be  explained  either  as  omis- 
sion by  error,  or  as  addition  by  error.  In  Matt. 
27:17,  the  Revised  Standard  Version  reads: 
"Pilate  said  to  them,  'Whom  do  you  want  me  to 
release  for  you,  Barabbas  or  Jesus  who  is  called 
Christ?'"  In  a  few  copies  of  this  passage  we 
find,  "Whom  do  you  want  me  to  release  for 
you?  Jesus  Barabbas?  or  Jesus  who  is  called 
Christ?"  Let  us  assume  that  the  original  did  not 
read  the  word  "Jesus"  before  "Barabbas."  It 
could  have  been  created  there  by  the  erroneous 
duplication  of  the  last  syllable  of  the  Greek 
word  "you."  This  word  in  this  passage  would  be 
YMIN,  and  IN  is  an  abbreviation  frequently 
employed  for  "Jesus."  If  a  scribe  by  error  wrote 
YMIN  IN,  the  result  would  be  ".  .  .  for  you? 
Jesus  Barabbas?"  But  let  us  take  the  other  posi- 
tion and  assume  that  the  original  read  the  word 
"Jesus"  before  "Barabbas."  Then  the  scribe 
could  easily  by  error  have  omitted  the  second 
IN  and  thus  created  the  reading  ".  .  .  for  you? 
Barabbas?  .  .  ."  In  such  circumstances  either 
additional  data  or  other  criteria  for  judgment 
are  needed  before  the  printer  can  decide  which 
form  to  follow. 

Variations  between  copies  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment were  created  also  by  scribes  who  were 
poor  spellers.  In  this  regard  ancient  stenogra- 
phers resemble  their  modern  counterparts  at 
their  worst.  Quite  a  few  vowels  and  diphthongs 
were  pronounced  alike  in  Greek,  and  not  until 
the  printing  press  was  invented  did  uniform 
spelling  become  possible.  In  the  Four  Gospels 
of  Karahissar  there  are  271  of  these  misspellings. 

The  presence  of  these  "ear-spellings"  in  a 
copy  has  often  been  claimed  as  evidence  that  it 
was  written  from  dictation.  But  one's  confi- 
dence in  this  claim  may  well  be  shaken  by  the 
discovery  that  when  composing  on  the  type- 
writer, one  can  easily  think  "their"  and  write 
"there,"  etc.,  or  by  the  observation  of  similar 
errors  made  by  typists  who  are  following  clear 


copy.  Slight  variations  of  this  and  similar  types 
account  for  almost  fifty  per  cent  of  the  variant 
readings  found  in  the  ordinary  handwritten 
copy  of  the  Greek  New  Testament. 

5.  Change  of  the  Rare  to  the  Familiar. — 
Modern  psychologists  have  taught  us  that  we 
often  see  what  we  expect  to  see,  the  familiar 
object,  even  when  it  is  not  there.  The  scribes 
who  copied  the  New  Testament  were  subject  to 
this  failing  also,  and  because  of  it,  created  varia- 
tions in  some  copies  of  the  New  Testament. 
This  is  strikingly  illustrated  in  Mark  6:20,  in 
the  story  of  John  the  Baptist's  imprisonment. 
One  of  the  commonest  words  in  Greek,  as  in 
English,  is  the  verb  "do."  Relatively  rare  in 
Greek,  as  in  English,  is  the  verb  "to  be  per- 
plexed." It  occurs  only  six  times  in  the  New 
Testament.  In  the  Greek  these  two  verbs  look 
much  alike  in  the  third  person  singular  of  the 
imperfect  tense  of  the  indicative  mood.  "He 
did"  is  iTfofei;  "he  was  perplexed"  is  fj-mSpei.  On 
the  one  hand,  the  famous  manuscripts  Vati- 
canus,  Sinaiticus,  Koridethi,  and  a  few  others 
with  the  Egyptian  version  read,  "When  he 
[Herod]  heard  him  [John],  he  was  much  per- 
plexed; and  yet  he  heard  him  gladly."  This  is 
to  be  seen  in  the  Revised  Standard  Version, 
also  in  Goodspeed's  translation.  On  the  other 
hand,  the  overwhelming  majority  of  copies  read 
with  the  King  James  Version,  "And  when  he 
[Herod]  heard  him  [John],  he  did  many  things, 
and  heard  him  gladly." 

There  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  scribes  mis- 
read the  rare  word  "perplexed"  as  the  familiar 
word  "did."  This  can  be  seen  actually  happen- 
ing in  a  copy  of  the  Gospel  of  Mark  at  the 
University  of  Chicago.  This  manuscript,  called 
"The  Archaic  Mark,"  originally  read  "per- 
plexed," but  has  been  "corrected"  to  read  "did." 

C.  Variations  Created  by  Editors. — Up  to  this 
point  we  have  been  considering  variations 
caused  by  scribes.  Two  other  classes  of  people 
worked  their  will  upon  the  New  Testament: 
editors  and  translators.  At  times  the  results  of 
their  work  included  the  creation  of  new  vari- 
ants. Scribes  were  discussed  first  because  they 
are  more  numerous,  but  not  because  the  time 
sequence  is  scribes,  editors,  translators.  Only 
the  first  few  scribes  preceded  all  editors  and 
translators;  after  that  they  all  overlap  in  time. 
Thus,  for  example,  in  the  fifty  years  from  A.D. 
150  to  200,  the  New  Testament  was  being 
translated,  edited,  and  copied. 

Much  of  what  has  been  said  about  scribes  is 
true  also  of  editors.  An  editor  is  just  a  super- 
scribe who  hires  other  scribes  to  multiply 
copies  of  the  New  Testament  under  his  direc- 
tion. An  editor  would  differ  from  a  scribe  in 
the  rigor  with  which  he  applied  his  principles 


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throughout  the  text  of  the  New  Testament.  If 
he  preferred  participle  and  verb  to  verb  and 
verb,  the  editor  would  choose  the  former  rather 
consistently.  If  he  felt  that  a  short  form  was 
primitive,  he  would  take  it  whenever  he  could. 
An  editor  who  favored  smoothness  would  add 
expletives  throughout  the  work.  As  will  be  seen 
later,  we  have  in  existence  groups  of  manu- 
scripts which  exhibit  some  of  these  character- 
istics so  consistently  that  we  are  constrained  to 
attribute  them  to  the  work  of  editors. 

An  editor  would  differ  also  from  a  scribe  in 
the  degree  of  conscious  purpose  with  which  he 
changed  particular  copies  or  particular  passages. 
In  that  purpose  most  editors  would  certainly 
include  a  desire  for  unity.  This  desire  might 
express  itself  as  a  concern  for  the  widest  pos- 
sible circulation  of  the  new  edition,  or  for  the 
destruction  of  rival  editions.  Yet  this  very 
desire  might  lead  to  the  use  of  several  pre- 
viously distinct  strains  in  the  production  of  the 
new  edition.  A  New  Testament  of  one  type 
might  be  corrected  by  one  of  a  very  different 
sort.  This  led  to  the  creation  of  new  readings 
when  the  editor  blended  the  readings  of  the 
two  manuscripts. 

Westcott  and  Hort  called  such  a  hybrid  a 
"conflate  reading,"  aind  identified  eight  of 
them  as  the  work  of  die  editors  who  produced 
a  fourth-century  edition  which  they  called 
"Syrian."  In  Mark  9:49  these  editors  created 
the  reading,  "For  every  one  shall  be  salted  with 
fire,  and  every  sacrifice  shall  be  salted  with  salt." 
Earlier  editions  of  the  passage  are  known.  One 
reads,  "For  every  one  will  be  salted  with  fire"; 
another,  "For  every  sacrifice  shall  be  salted  with 
salt."  We  have  seen  that  editors  resembled 
scribes,  and  we  find  individual  scribes  occasion- 
ally blending  readings  in  this  same  fashion.  In 
Acts  6:8  many  copies  jread  "full  of  grace";  many 
others  "full  of  faith."  But  one  copy  reads, 
"full  of  grace  and  faith." 

D.  Variations  Created  by  Translators. — By 
the  time  the  apostle  Paul  came  to  his  martyr- 
dom, the  overwhelming  majority  of  the  Chris- 
tians spoke  Greek,  either  as  a  native  tongue  or 
as  a  second  language.  But  as  Christian  mission- 
aries pushed  beyond  the  cities  into  small  provin- 
cial villages,  the  demand  for  a  New  Testament 
in  the  native  tongue  of  these  new  converts 
increased.  By  A.D.  200,  the  New  Testament  was 
available  in  Latin,  in  Egyptian,  and  In  Syriac. 
The  gradual  decline  in  knowledge  of  Greek 
among  Christians  contributed  to  the  develop- 
ment of  particular  forms  of  the  New  Testament 
in  several  languages. 

Translating  the  New  Testament,  even  when 
it  is  done  with  care,  creates  new  variations  in 
its  content.  Many  of  the  early  translations  were 


not  made  with  much  care.  Augustine  says  of 
the  making  of  the  early  Latin  translations: 

For  the  translations  of  the  Scriptures  from  He- 
brew into  Greek  can  be  counted,  but  the  Latin 
translators  are  out  of  all  number.  For  in  the  early 
days  of  the  faith  every  man  who  happened  to  get 
his  hands  upon  a  Greek  manuscript,  and  who 
thought  he  had  any  knowledge,  were  it  ever  so 
little,  of  the  two  languages,  ventured  upon  the 
work  of  translation/ 

It  is  interesting  to  note  that  one  of  these  Latin 
versions  is  probably  the  longest  form  of  the 
Gospels  in  existence  while  an  equally  ancient 
Syriac  translation  is  the  shortest  form  in  ex- 
istence. 

Sometimes  the  translator  creates  a  reading 
unwittingly.  In  the  account  of  the  Lord's  Sup- 
per in  the  King  James  and  the  American  Stand- 
ard Version  (Matt.  26:27)  the  Lord  says  to  his 
disciples  as  he  hands  them  the  cup,  "Drink  ye 
all  of  it."  Sermons  on  this  text  have  sometimes 
expounded  it  as  an  exhortation  to  complete 
devotion,  devotion  unto  death,  as  though  the 
meaning  were,  "drink  the  cup  to  the  dregs." 
To  avoid  such  a  misunderstanding,  Weymouth 
reads  "Drink,  all  of  you";  the  Twentieth  Cen- 
tury New  Testament  translates  "Drink  from  it, 
all  of  you";  Goodspeed  reads  "You  must  all 
drink  from  it";  and  the  Revised  Standard  Ver- 
sion has  "Drink  of  it,  all  of  you." 

When  Tyndale  translated  a  Greek  verb  mean- 
ing "wrapped  up"  in  Luke  2:7  as  "wrapped 
hym  in  swadlynge  cloothes,"  he  created  a  new 
reading  for  the  New  Testament.  For  it  survived 
through  the  King  James  Version  to  the  English 
Revised  Version  and  the  American  Standard 
Version.  "Clothes"  is  a  survival  of  the  old 
spelling  of  "cloths";  thus  the  "swaddling-cloths" 
were  not  garments,  and  the  passage  is  much 
more  accurately  translated  in  the  modern 
speech  versions  as  "wrapped  him  up."  The 
Revised  Standard  Version  reads  "swaddling 
cloths." 

Other  variants  created  by  translators  are  less 
innocent.  The  Revised  Standard  Version  often 
smooths  out  the  language  of  the  original  be- 
yond recognition;  especially  is  this  true  in  the 
Gospels  of  Mark  and  Luke.  The  "and  .  .  .  and 
.  .  .  and"  of  Mark's  Gospel  is  polished  up  to 
suit  sensitive  English  ears  and  leaves  no  trace 
of  the  style  of  the  original  for  the  student  of 
Mark.  Likewise,  the  "and  it  came  to  pass"  of 
the  older  version — which  actually  exists  in  the 
New  Testament  itself— was  dropped. 

E.  Standardization  of  the  Text. — Editors  and 
translators  create  "standard"  editions  which 
spread  a  particular  pattern  of  variations  widely 
but  check  the  development  of  new  variations. 

*On  Christian  Doctrine  II.  11. 


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THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


A  few  editors  tried  to  standardize  the  New 
Testament  as  early  as  the  second  century.  A 
Greek-Latin  manuscript  from  the  fifth  century, 
which  is  supported  by  some  copies  of  second- 
century  Latin  translations,  contains  one  of  the 
earliest  standard  texts.  This  particular  type  is 
harmonized  and  inclusive— long,  rather  than 
short.  It  is  a  part  of  what  used  to  be  called  the 
Western  Text.  But  standardization  began  to 
succeed  about  the  end  of  the  fourth  century, 
progressed  unevenly  through  the  Middle  Ages 
and  found  its  period  of  greatest  success  from  the 
invention  of  printing  in  the  fifteenth  century 
to  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century.  The 
earliest  datable  standard  version  was  the  re- 
vision of  the  earlier  Latin  versions  made  by 
Jerome  at  the  request  of  Pope  Damasus  I  about 
A.D.  380.  Jerome  claimed  that  when  he  began 
his  work  there  were  as  many  different  forms 
of  the  Latin  New  Testament  as  there  were  indi- 
vidual copies.  To  reform  the  Latin  New  Testa- 
ment by  making  a  new  revision  was  one  thing; 
to  get  it  universally  used,  another.  The  triumph 
of  this  Latin  Vulgate  New  Testament  was 
gradual  and  partial;  it  reached  its  climax  in  the 
days  of  the  Counter  Reformation.  In  A.D.  1546, 
by  a  vote  of  the  majority  of  the  clerics  assem- 
bled at  Trent,  it  was  decided  that  Jerome's 
Latin  revision  was  the  New  Testament. 

Early  in  the  fifth  century  AD.  an  energetic 
leader  of  the  Syriac-speaking  church,  Rabbula, 
prepared  a  new  form  of  the  Syriac  New  Testa- 
ment, With  the  aid  of  the  hierarchy  in  Syria, 
earlier  forms  of  the  New  Testament  were  col- 
lected and  destroyed.  One  bishop  reported  that 
he  found  and  destroyed  over  two  hundred 
copies  of  Tatian's  harmonized  gospel  (the 
Diatessaron) .  In  this  liquidation  of  competing 
forms  of  the  Bible,  and  in  the  care  with  which 
the  new  standard  version  was  copied,  the  Syrian 
Christians  are  very  similar  to  the  Jewish  scribes 
who  worked  on  the  standard  form  of  the  He- 
brew Old  Testament.  This  fifth-century  Syriac 
New  Testament,  called  Peshitta  or  vulgate,  won 
its  victory  rapidly  and  maintained  its  domi- 
nance effectively.  The  manuscripts  in  which  it 
appears  differ  from  one  another  very  little. 

In  Egypt  the  form  of  the  New  Testament 
which  won  a  dominant  position  owed  much  to 
the  scholarly  achievements  of  Christians  at 
Alexandria.  Here  under  Clement  and  Origen, 
the  young  Christian  movement  learned  much  of 
the  lore  of  the  Greeks.  At  Alexandria  the  study 
of  the  manuscripts  of  the  pagan  classics  reached 
its  peak.  It  is  not  surprising,  therefore,  that 
Alexandrian  Christians  are  given  credit  for  de- 
veloping the  version  which  is  today  the  prefer- 
ence of  most  scholars.  "Develop"  is  the  exact 
word,  for  its  witnesses  are  seldom  unanimous. 
By  the  fifth  century  this  New  Testament,  called 


variously  the  Alexandrian  or  the  Beta  or  the 
Neutral,  held  a  dominant  position  in  Egypt. 
Its  career  was  cut  short  by  the  Mohammedan 
conquest  of  Egypt  in  the  seventh  century. 

Long  before  the  seventh  century,  the  leader- 
ship of  the  Greek  world  had  passed  to  Con- 
stantinople. Here  there  emerged  a  form  of  the 
New  Testament  distinct  both  from  that  of 
Alexandria  and  from  that  known  in  the  West 
before  Jerome.  Today  we  know  but  little  of 
its  origin,  and  very  little  more  of  the  steps  by 
which  it  developed  into  the  form  in  which  we 
find  it  in  the  tenth  century  ruling  all  Greek 
Christendom.  Like  the  Latin  and  Syriac  vul- 
gates,  like  the  Alexandrian  New  Testament, 
there  is  little  in  this  Byzantine  New  Testament 
that  is  distinctive;  and  there  is  relatively  little 
that  was  created  by  the  makers  and  revisers  of 
this  revision.  Most  o£  its  readings  existed  in  the 
second  century.  The  pattern  in  which  earlier 
forms  were  mixed  at  Constantinople  is,  how- 
ever, a  distinct  pattern.  From  the  tenth  to  the 
fourteenth  centuries,  at  least  four  distinguish- 
able revisions  of  this  Greek  vulgate  were  pro- 
duced. One  of  its  forms  appears  in  the  first 
printings  of  the  New  Testament  (notably  in 
those  of  Erasmus,  Elzevir,  and  Stephanus) ,  and 
through  them  determines  the  content  of  the 
sixteenth-century  translations  into  English, 
which  in  their  turn  determined  the  content  of 
the  King  James  Version  and  the  English  New 
Testament  down  to  A.D.  1880. 

II.  Choosing  Between  Variant  Readings 
The  individual  Christian,  or  the  translator  or 
editor  or  printer  who  is  his  deputy,  must  choose 
a  New  Testament  from  a  bewildering  variety 
of  New  Testaments.  How  shall  he  choose? 

A.  Methods  Not  Now  Generally  Approved. 
I.  By  Custom. — For  three  centuries  after  the 
printing  of  the  first  Greek  New  Testament  in 
A.D.  1525,  the  choice  of  a  New  Testament  was 
decided  by  custom.  The  content  of  the  earliest 
printings  was  based  largely  on  what  lay  at  hand. 
These  editions  became  the  source  of  the  popu- 
lar versions,  including  all  the  great  English 
translations  of  the  sixteenth  century.  The  long- 
continued  vogue  of  the  King  James  Version 
sanctified  the  Greek  text  from  which  it  was 
made.  When,  therefore,  in  the  eighteenth  and 
nineteenth  centuries,  scholars  found  ancient 
manuscripts  that  differed  widely  from  the  re- 
ceived text  and  challenged  its  supremacy,  the 
answer  was  that  the  text  which  the  church  was 
using  was  the  correct  New  Testament.  Its  cham- 
pions voted  for  the  customary,  but  they  found 
other  arguments  to  support  their  position. 

The  Protestant  champions  argued  (a)  that 
the  Holy  Spirit  would  not  permit  the  church  to 
accept  an  inferior  or  corrupt  New  Testament; 


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TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


(b)  that  other  New  Testaments  smelled  of 
heresy;  (c)  that  no  record  exists  of  the  making 
of  this  text  or  of  its  adoption  by  the  church — 
an  indication  that  it  is  primitive  in  origin  and 
in  its  use  by  the  church;  and  (d)  that  more 
manuscripts  in  Greek  and  in  other  languages, 
and  more  church  fathers  support  this  New 
Testament  than  support  any  other. 

2.  By  Majority  Vote. — The  one  objectively 
supported  argument  was  the  claim  that  this 
New  Testament  had  the  largest  number  of  ad- 
herents among  the  manuscripts.  This  is  the 
argument  from  recent  usage  in  another  form. 
Why  is  it  that  the  type  of  New  Testament  pub- 
lished by  Erasmus  and  his  successors  in  the 
sixteenth  century  is  generally  supported  by 
hundreds  and  hundreds  of  copies  of  the  New 
Testament?  Because  Erasmus  chose  the  current 
form  of  the  New  Testament  to  print.  That  form 
had  won  a  dominant  position  by  the  tenth 
century;  most  of  the  manuscripts  in  existence 
today  were  written  after  the  tenth  century. 
Thus  if  the  selection  of  a  New  Testament  is 
determined  by  majority  vote  of  the  copies  in 
existence,  the  decision  would  inevitably  be  in 
favor  of  a  late  medieval  form  of  the  Greek  New 
Testament.  This  New  Testament  indeed  de- 
serves to  be  called  the  Greek  Vulgate.  (It  has 
other  names  as  well:  "the  Syrian  Text,"  "the 
Ecclesiastical  Text/'  "the  Koine,"  "the  Textus 
Receptus,"  "the  Byzantine  Text,"  "the  Tradi- 
tional Text,"  and  "the  Received  Text.")  Is  not 
the  sheer  weight  of  the  witnesses  to  this  com- 
monly used  New  Testament  decisive  in  its 
favor? 

This  was  the  one  question  which  the  cham- 
pions of  other  forms  of  the  New  Testament  had 
to  answer.  Their  answer  was  a  resounding 
negative. 

The  opponents  of  the  Greek  Vulgate  forced 
its  rejection  by  turning  a  spotlight  on  the  sig- 
nificance of  the  family  tree,  of  genealogy,  in  the 
world  of  manuscripts.  Suppose  that  there  are 
only  ten  copies  of  a  book  and  that  nine  are  all 
copies  from  one;  then  the  majority  can  be  safely 
rejected.  Or  suppose  that  nine  of  the  ten  are 
copied  from  a  lost  manuscript,  and  that  this  lost 
manuscript  and  the  other  one  were  both  copied 
from  the  original;  then  the  vote  of  the  majority 
would  not  outweigh  that  of  the  minority.  These 
arguments  show  clearly  that  a  majority  of  manu- 
scripts is  not  necessarily  to  be  preferred  as 
correct. 

It  is  the  quality  of  a  New  Testament  that 
counts,  not  the  quantity  of  its  adherents.  Wit- 
nesses should  not  be  counted  but  weighed. 
Scribes  could  recopy  a  poor  New  Testament  a 
hundred  times  without  making  it  a  good  New 
Testament.  In  the  scales  of  judgment  this 
majority  text  (from  which  the  King  James 


Version  was  translated)  has  been  shown  to  be 
a  relatively  corrupt  New  Testament,  out- 
weighed by  others  with  fewer  adherents.  It  is 
a  harmonized  text,  a  polished  text,  an  anno- 
tated text. 

3.  By  Date. — Another  simple  solution  to  the 
difficulty  is  to  choose  the  oldest  manuscript  and 
follow  it  faithfully.  If  the  history  of  the  New 
Testament  were  a  record  of  steady  deteriora- 
tion, this  could  be  done.  But  the  opening  period 
in  the  transmission  of  the  New  Testament  is 
marked  by  a  splurge  of  deterioration,  and  that 
period    (to  A.D.  150)    is  older  than  the  oldest 
manuscript  in  existence.  If  we  had  a  New  Testa- 
ment from  the  second  century,  we  could  have 
no  assurance  that  other  second-century  manu- 
scripts were  like  it  or  any  confidence  that  it  was 
like  the  original  New  Testament. 

4.  By  Quality. — If  the  oldest  is  not  certainly 
the  best,  since  age  and  virtue  are  not  co-ordi- 
nates, why  not  select  the  best  manuscript  or 
text  type — whatever  its  age  may  be — and  follow 
it?  This  cannot  be  done  because  no  manuscript 
or  text  type  is  of  the  same  quality  throughout. 
All  the  manuscripts  and  text  types  are  the  result 
of  crossbreeding  and  a  consequent  mixture  in 
ancestry.  No  text  or  document  is  homogeneous 
enough  to  justify  judgment  on  the  basis  of  a 
part  of  its  readings  for  the  rest  of  its  readings. 
Some  manuscripts  and  text  types  can  be  justi- 
fied in  part  of  their  readings  even  when  they 
have  to  be  generally  repudiated. 

The  mixture  in  quality  in  manuscripts  is  due 
partly  to  the  absence  of  single-volume  New 
Testaments  in  the  first  two  centuries.  At  the 
beginning  each  book  was  copied  as  a  single 
book  and  circulated  alone.  By  A.D.  200,  or  soon 
after,  the  four  Gospels  probably  were  copied 
together,  as  were  the  letters  of  Paul.  But  it  is 
doubtful  that  any  single  book  contained  Gos- 
pels, Acts,  and  Paul  much  earlier  than  A.D.  300. 
When  these  books  were  put  together  into  one 
book,  they  had  various  separate  ancestries.  Thus 
the  fourth-century  New  Testaments  resemble 
a  freight  train  in  which  one  car  is  New  York 
Central,  one  is  Pennsylvania,  one  is  Chesapeake 
and  Ohio,  one  is  Atlantic  Coast  Line,  etc.  This 
is  mixture  by  distinct  blocks  of  text,  the  quality 
of  one  section  being  quite  different  from  that 
of  another. 

This  type  of  mixture  occurred  even  in  the 
four  Gospels.  The  celebrated  Washington  man- 
uscript, "the  Freer  Gospels,"  from  the  late 
fourth  or  early  fifth  century  in  Egypt  has  this 
type  of  content.  Matthew  has  the  Byzantine 
text  type;  the  Gospel  of  John  has  the  "Neutral" 
text  type;  Mark  1:1-5:30  has  an  "African" 
text  type;  Mark  5:31  to  the  end  has  the  so- 
called  Caesarean  text  type;  Luke  1:1-8:12  has 
the  "Neutral"  text  type;  and  Luke  8:13  to  the 


79 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


end  has  the  Byzantine  text  type.  This  is  mixture 
in  large  blocks. 

But  it  is  simple  and  unified  compared  to 
another  and  more  common  type  of  mixture 
which  could  be  called  repair  shop  mixture.  Sup- 
pose some  wooden  Chesapeake  and  Ohio  freight 
cars  were  growing  old;  some  of  the  slats  that 
make  up  the  sides  of  the  cars  were  broken, 
some  rotted,  etc.  The  cars  go  to  the  shops.  In 
the  shops  are  a  number  of  old  freight  cars 
bought  from  the  Pennsylvania  Railroad.  These 
are  dismantled  and  used  to  patch  the  Chesa- 
peake and  Ohio  cars,  which  are  returned  to 
service.  Again  they  wear  out;  again  they  go  to 
the  shops.  This  time  the  supply  of  repair  parts 
comes  from  some  old  New  York  Central  box- 
cars. The  Chesapeake  and  Ohio  cars  are  re- 
paired and  go  back  into  service,  After  this  has 
happened  four  or  five  times,  no  railroad  detec- 
tive could  trace  the  ancestry  of  the  train. 

5.  By  Genealogy. — This  mixture  in  ancestry 
and  quality  blocks  the  path  to  another  solution 
— the  retracing  of  the  genealogy  from  children 
to  parents  to  grandparents  and  so  on  all  the 
way  back  to  the  original.  Multiple  or  mixed 
ancestry  is  the  rule  in  these  large  groups.  Most 
of  the  manuscripts  are  no  closer  than  forty- 
second  cousins  or  great-great  uncles.  This  com- 
bination of  promiscuity  and  gaps  in  the  genera- 
tions baffles  the  constructor  of  family  trees.  In 
short,  we  are  dealing  not  with  a  family,  close- 
knit  in  intimate  relationships,  but  with  a  nation, 
a  nation  to  which  immigrants  have  come  from 
many  countries.  Genealogy  will  help  us 
reach  some  of  the  way  stations,  but  it  will  never 
take  us  back  through  the  jungle  of  mixture  to 
the  original  New  Testament. 

6*  By  Agreement  with  Church  Fathers. — Nor 
can  one  appeal  from  confusion  in  the  New 
Testaments  themselves  to  the  testimony  of  the 
earliest  church  fathers.  What  has  been  said 
above  about  the  "oldest  manuscript"  can  be 
said  also  about  the  oldest  fathers.  They  dis- 
agree with  one  another,  and  even  with  them- 
selves. Many  of  them  can  be  quoted  on  both 
sides  of  the  question  in  passage  after  passage. 
Even  as  late  as  the  end  of  the  second  century, 
scholarly  Christians  are  treating  the  scriptures 
with  considerable  freedom,  In  the  Miscellanies 
I.  19  Clement  quotes  I  Cor.  13:12  simply  as, 
"For  now  we  see  as  in  a  mirror,"  rather  than 
as,  "For  now  we  see  as  in  a  mirror  darkly." 
Consistently  throughout  both  the  Instructor 
and  the  Miscellanies  he  omits  "darkly**  when 
quoting  this  passage.  There  is  evidence,  how- 
ever, that  he  knew  the  verse  in  its  longer  form. 
The  word  translated  "darkly"  means  "a  dark 
saying"  or  "a  riddle."  The  omission  probably 
grows  out  of  Clement's  reluctance  to  assert  that 
the  Christian,  the  true  gnostic,  now  sees  only  in 


riddles  or  enigmas.  In  general,  this  freedom  in 
quotation  makes  it  difficult  to  determine  just 
what  form  of  the  New  Testament  the  early 
fathers  were  using.  It  is  as  necessary  to  check 
the  fathers  by  the  manuscripts  as  it  is  to  check 
the  manuscripts  by  the  fathers. 

7.  By  Geographical  Distribution. — One  of  the 
great  students  of  manuscripts  cast  a  wistful  eye 
at  the  possibility  of  geographical  evidence  as  a 
clue  to  the  original.  F,  C.  Burkitt  used  to  say 
that  where  the  Old  Syriac  from  the  eastern  end 
of  the  Christian  world  agreed  with  the  Old 
Latin  from  the  western  end  of  the  world,  the 
original  New  Testament  brought  them  together. 
This  argument  rests  on  the  assumption  that 
Syria  and  Africa  were  isolated  from  each  other 
in  so  far  as  the  copying  of  the  New  Testament 
was  concerned.  But  we  cannot  be  sure  of  this 
isolation;  the  Greek  forerunner  of  the  Old 
Syriac — itself  not  the  original  New  Testament 
— could  have  been  carried  to  the  West  to  in- 
fluence the  making  of  the  Old  Latin  Version. 

No  single  or  simple  answer  is  possible.  We 
cannot  choose  our  New  Testament  by  counting 
noses,  or  by  venerating  age,  or  by  the  selection 
of  a  paragon,  or  by  constructing  a  family  tree, 
or  by  preferring  an  early  Christian  who  com- 
mented on  the  New  Testament  to  one  who 
copied  it,  or  by  assuming  the  independence  of 
voters  who  live  in  distant  towns. 

B.  The  Best  Method  a  Triple  One. — The 
answer  is  complex.  We  choose  our  New  Testa- 
ment by  taking  three  steps.  First  of  all  we  study 
the  relationship  of  one  New  Testament  to  other 
New  Testaments.  This  is  sometimes  called  the 
external  study  of  manuscripts.  Then  we  study 
the  relationship  of  one  particular  form  of  a 
passage  to  the  alternative  forms  of  the  passage. 
This  is  the  internal  evidence.  Finally,  if  neither 
of  these  helps  us  and  the  passage  still  does  not 
make  sense,  we  make  the  shrewdest  guess  we 
can  as  to  the  original  form  of  the  passage.  This 
is  conjectural  emendation. 

1.  External  Study. — It  may  seem  silly  to  say 
that  family  trees  cannot  solve  our  problem  and 
then  say  that  we  begin  the  solution  with  family 
trees.  For  the  student  of  textual  criticism  the 
making  of  family  trees  is  not  wisdom,  but  it  is 
the  beginning  of  wisdom.  He  starts  his  investiga- 
tion with  a  particular  manuscript  of  the  New 
Testament.  Either  members  of  its  family  still 
survive  or  they  do  not.  If  they  do,  he  charts  the 
family  tree.  Then  he  can  forget  the  individual 
members  of  the  family  and  quote  only  the 
family  from  there  on.  This  clears  out  a  lot  of 
underbrush.  But  if  the  other  members  of  the 
immediate  family  have  not  survived,  the  student 
profits  from  comparing  his  manuscript  with 
others — even  though  he  cannot  reconstruct  the 
family  tree.  Although  exact  location  cannot  be 


80 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


recovered,  more  general  locations  within  larger 
groups  of  manuscripts  are  a  real  possibility.  The 
study  of  these  larger  and  looser  kinships  illumi- 
nates the  history  of  the  transmission  of  the  New 
Testament.  In  the  second  place,  the  study  of  the 
relationship  of  the  first  manuscript  to  others 
educates  the  student  in  the  habits  of  scribes 
and  in  the  characteristics  of  individual  manu- 
scripts. 

2.  Internal  Evidence. — Variant  readings  have 
been  appraised  by  the  experts  through  the  gen- 
erations of  scholarly  study  according  to  longer 
or  shorter  lists  of  rules,  or  "canons  of  internal 
criticism."  These  rules  were  supposed  to  guide 
the  student  in  choosing  between  alternative 
forms  of  the  same  passage.  But  they  furnish  no 
sure  guide.  One  scholar  tells  us  to  prefer  the 
shorter  and  less  elegant  reading.  But  if  the 
shorter  reading  should  be  more  elegant  than 
the  longer  reading,  what  can  the  poor  student 
do?  No  rule  will  save  him. 

These  lists  of  rules  have  shrunk  steadily  in 
the  last  one  hundred  and  fifty  years.  Tischen- 
dorf  was  content  with  five.  Hort  has  been  fol- 
lowed by  many  moderns  in  emphasizing  only 
two.  These  two  are:  (a)  that  reading  is  to  be 
preferred  which  best  suits  the  context,  and  (b) 
that  reading  is  to  be  preferred  which  best  ex- 
plains the  origin  of  all  others.  Fenton  John 
Anthony  Hort  was  never  satisfied  with  short 
words  if  he  could  find  a  long  one;  so  he  called 
these  rules:  (a)  "Intrinsic  Probability,"  and 
(b)  "Transcriptional  Probability." 

These  two  rules  are  nothing  less  than  con- 
centrated formulas  of  all  that  the  textual  critic 
must  know  and  bring  to  bear  upon  the  solution 
of  his  problem.  The  first  rule  about  choosing 
what  suits  the  context  exhorts  the  student  to 
know  the  document  he  is  working  on  so  thor- 
oughly that  its  idioms  are  his  idioms,  its  ideas 
as  well  known  as  a  familiar  room.  The  second 
rule  about  choosing  what  could  have  caused 
the  other  readings  requires  that  the  student 
know  everything  in  Christian  history  which 
could  lead  to  the  creation  of  a  variant  reading. 
This  involves  knowledge  of  institutions,  doc- 
trines, and  events.  This  is  knowledge  of  com- 
plicated and  often  conflicting  forces  and  move- 
ments. Christianity  from  the  beginning  was  a 
vital  and  creative  movement.  It  outran  the 
formation  of  patterns  and  fences.  It  experienced 
the  love  of  God  first  and  formulated  it  after- 
ward. No  single  line  can  chart  its  course;  no 
one  orthodoxy  encompasses  it. 

In  this  complexity  the  student  is  guided  not 
by  rules,  but  by  knowledge  and  judgment.  He 
is  guided  by  his  knowledge  of  scribes  and  manu- 
scripts, of  Christian  history  and  institutions 
•and  theology,  and  of  the  books  whose  textual 
form  he  is  striving  to  perfect.  He  is  guided  also 


by  his  own  judgment,  a  quality  through  which 
the  application  of  reason  to  knowledge  becomes 
an  art. 

3.  Conjectural  Emendation. — The  quality  of 
judgment  is  needed  in  the  decision  as  to  the 
use  of  conjectural  emendation  in  the  study  of 
the  New  Testament.  If  after  external  and  in- 
ternal evidence  has  been  studied,  the  passage 
in  question  still  yields  no  sense  in  any  of  the 
forms  preserved  in  the  manuscripts,  a  shrewd 
guess  as  to  the  nature  of  a  possible  primitive 
error  is  legitimate. 

The  careless  use  of  conjecture  is  as  indefensi- 
ble as  the  refusal  to  use  it  at  all.  There  can  be 
no  doubt  that  some  readings  preserved  in  our 
manuscripts  were  created  by  the  conjectures  of 
ancient  editors.  To  use  their  conjectures  in 
various  passages  because  they  are  recorded  in 
manuscripts  and  are  therefore  objective,  and 
to  refuse  to  make  our  own  best  guess  when  the 
situation  requires  it,  is  not  a  case  of  good  judg- 
ment. Those  scholars  whose  stubborn  devotion 
to  objectivity  and  the  evidence  of  the  manu- 
scripts leads  them  to  reject  all  conjecture  de- 
serve A.  E.  Housman's  indictment:  they  "use 
MSS  as  drunkards  use  lamp-posts, — not  to  light 
them  on  their  way  but  to  dissimulate  their  insta- 
bility." 6  In  general,  the  students  of  the  manu- 
scripts and  the  translators  have  used  conjecture 
parsimoniously;  it  is  seldom  that  a  modern 
edition  of  the  New  Testament  will  contain 
more  than  two  or  three  conjectures.  For  in  view 
of  the  wealth  of  manuscript  evidence,  it  is 
probable  that  the  original  reading  has  survived. 

4.  Two  Illustrations. — No  statement  of  theory 
is  complete  unless  it  contains  examples  of  its 
application.  The  larger  variations  are  the  easier 
to  describe,  and  a  review  of  these  suggests  the 
choice  of  the  story  of  the  adulterous  woman 
found  in  some  New  Testaments  in  John  7:53- 
8:11.  Was  this  or  was  it  not  a  part  of  the 
original  Gospel  of  John? 

The  Freer  Gallery  of  Art  in  Washington  con- 
tains a  justly  famous  Greek  manuscript  of  the 
four  Gospels  from  the  fourth  or  fifth  century 
A.D.  It  is  the  habit  of  the  gallery  to  provide 
souvenir  postcards  for  interested  visitors.  For 
some  time  they  distributed  a  postcard  of  this 
manuscript  of  the  four  Gospels.  The  photo- 
graphed page  begins  at  John  7:46  in  the  middle 
of  the  word  "servants"  and  ends  in  8:16  with 
the  word  "sent."  On  the  back  of  the  card  ap- 
pears a  translation  of  John  8:3-11.  This  transla- 
tion is  sensational  because  not  a  word  of  it 
appears  on  the  other  side  of  the  card.  The 
Washington  Gospels  do  not  contain  the  story 
of  the  adulterous  woman  anywhere.  The  treach- 
erous character  of  ignorance  is  shown  by  the 

*  M.  Manilii  Astronomicon;  Liber  Primus  (2nd  ed.j 
Cambridge:  Cambridge  University  Press,  1937),  p.  liii. 


81 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


fact  that  the  maker  of  the  card  chose  this  page 
to  photograph  because  the  story  of  the  adulter- 
ous woman  was  one  of  his  favorite  scripture 
passages.  He  chose  the  page  of  the  manuscript 
that  began  before  it  and  ended  after  it,  assumed 
that  it  contained  it,  and  copied  the  story  from 
a  printed  King  James  Version. 

The  external  evidence  on  this  passage  is  as 
follows: 

(a)  It  is  absent  from  all  Greek  manuscripts 
earlier  than  the  ninth  century,  with  the  excep- 
tion of  a  fifth-century  Greek-Latin  manuscript. 

(6)  No  Greek  commentator  before  the  twelfth 
century  comments  on  this  passage,  although 
many  comment  on  its  context. 

(c)  It  appears  in   the  majority  of   Greek 
manuscripts  after  the  tenth  century. 

(d)  It  appears  in  various  locations:  (i)  after 
John  7:53  most  frequently;   (ii)   after  Luke  21 
in  Family  13;  (iii)  after  John  7:36  in  MS  225; 
(iv)   at  the  end  of  John  in  a  dozen  Greek  and 
many  Armenian  manuscripts;   (v)   in  the  mar- 
gins of  many  manuscripts  at  John  7:53. 

(e)  It  is  marked  as  an  insertion  in  scores  of 
Greek  manuscripts. 

(/)  It  appears  in  widely  varying  forms.  The 
student  who  is  comparing  the  Gospel  of  John 
with  a  printed  text  is  usually  amazed  at  the 
amount  of  variation  that  begins  as  soon  as  he 
enters  this  story.  Nine  distinct  forms  of  it  are 
well  attested  in  Greek. 

(g)  It  is  known  in  the  Latin  West  earlier 
than  the  fourth  century;  known  to  Ambrose, 
Augustine,  and  Jerome,  who  said  that  many 
Greek  and  Latin  manuscripts  contained  it;  it 
appears  in  half  a  dozen  pre-Vulgate  Latin 
manuscripts  and  in  the  Latin  Vulgate. 

(h)  It  is  known  in  some  form  in  Syria  by  the 
middle  of  the  third  century.  It  is  quoted  in  the 
Syriac  Teaching  of  the  Apostles  and  in  the 
Apostolic  Constitutions  which  are  based  on  that. 

This  external  evidence  is  best  explained  by 
the  assumption  that  this  story  was  no  part  of 
the  original  Gospel  of  John  but  entered  the 
Greek  New  Testament  through  the  Latin  ver- 
sions. This  assumption  is  supported  by  the 
internal  evidence. 

If  we  apply  the  test  of  suitability  to  context, 
the  vote  is  still  negative.  This  woman  is  the 
only  sinner  in  the  Fourth  Gospel.  Sin  defined 
as  immorality  does  not  exist  in  this  Gospel. 
Nowhere  else  does  the  Fourth  Evangelist  sug- 
gest the  quality  of  pity,  mercy,  or  compassion. 
There  are  no  "publicans  and  sinners"  in  John's 
gospel.  John  had  no  repentance  or  forgiveness 
of  sins.  No  person  of  notorious  character  is 
introduced.  Nowhere  is  any  group  of  sinners 
mentioned  as  companions  of  Jesus. 
Detailed  studies  of  vocabulary  and  style  show 


that  this  story  is  as  alien  to  John  in  form  as  it 
is  in  idea. 

Furthermore,  the  story  does  not  fit  the  con- 
text because  it  interrupts  the  narrative.  If  this 
story  is  absent,  then  the  great  day  of  the  feast 
of  Tabernacles  is  signalized  by  Jesus'  twin 
declarations  that  he  is  the  Water  of  Life  and 
that  he  is  the  Light  of  the  World.  These  say- 
ings correspond  to  two  symbolic  acts  performed 
on  that  day:  the  pouring  of  the  water,  and  the 
lighting  of  the  golden  lamps.  If  the  story  of 
the  adulterous  woman  is  interposed,  the  first 
passage  alone  falls  within  the  time  of  the  feast, 
and  the  second  is  deferred  till  the  day  after  its 
conclusion.  Moreover,  the  two  sayings  are  then 
separated  by  an  unrelated  incident. 

The  second  test  has  little  force  here.  Does  its 
presence  or  its  absence  in  the  original  best 
explain  the  other?  It  is  hard  to  imagine  a  good 
reason  for  its  wholesale  omission.  But  Augus- 
tine's imagination  was  strong  enough  to  think 
up  a  reason: 

Some  of  little  faith,  or  rather  enemies  of  the  true 
faith,  I  suppose  from  a  fear  lest  their  wives  should 
gain  impunity  in  sin,  removed  from,  their  manu- 
scripts the  Lord's  act  o£  indulgence  to  the  adul- 
teress.6 

The  generality  of  the  "omission"  in  early  Greek 
sources  can  hardly  be  explained  this  way.  Nor 
is  Augustine's  argument  supported  by  the  evi- 
dence from  Luke's  Gospel,  where  even  greater 
acts  of  compassion  are  left  untouched  by  the 
scribes  who  lack  this  story  in  John.  The  external 
evidence  and  the  evidence  from  intrinsic  proba- 
bility show  that  this  story  was  no  part  of  the 
original  Gospel  of  John. 

As  an  example  of  conjectural  emendation, 
we  may  consider  a  suggested  correction  of  John 
19:29.  In  this  account  of  the  Crucifixion  the 
King  James  Version  and  the  Revised  Standard 
Version  agree  in  the  use  of  the  word  "hyssop." 
"A  bowl  full  of  vinegar  stood  there;  so  they  put 
a  sponge  full  of  the  wine  on  hyssop  and  held 
it  to  his  mouth."  Goodspeed  translates  this  "on 
a  pike,"  and  gives  the  following  commentary: 

Matthew  and  Mark  speak  of  a  reed  or  stick  .  ,  . 
being  used  for  the  purpose.  But  hyssop  was  a  low 
grassy  plant,  seldom  over  two  feet  high,  and  how 
it  could  be  used  for  such  a  purpose  is  hard  to  see. 
It  is  mentioned  in  I  Kings  4:33  as  the  most  insig- 
nificant of  plants.  .  .  .  Modern  scholars  are  inclined 
to  dismiss  the  word  "hyssop"  as  a  graphic  error 
(Souter)  for  the  Greek  word  6crcrcp  [hysso],  a  pike, 
which  would  be  the  most  practical  and  natural 
thing  to  use  in  such  a  situation.  If  this  .  .  .  was  the 
original  reading,  it  must  have  been  changed  very 
early  to  hyssop,  under  the  influence  of  the  use  of 
hyssop  before  the  Passover  to  sprinkle  the  blood  of 

6  Ad  Pollentium  de  Adulterinis  Confugiis  II.  vii.  6. 


82 


TEXT  AND  ANCIENT  VERSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT 


the  Passover  lamb  upon  the  doorposts  (Exod. 
12:22)  / 

In  such  a  case  the  reader  must  judge  whether 
John,  who  had  read  Mark,  would  care  more  for 
accuracy  in  historical  detail  or  more  for  sym- 
bolic allusion.  In  other  words,  is  the  nature 
of  the  Fourth  Gospel  in  general  such  as  to 
support  or  reject  this  conjecture? 

With  these  brief  examples  we  leave  the  dis- 
cussion of  method.  The  method  begins  by  the 
comparison  of  manuscript  with  manuscript — a 
study  of  external  relationships.  But  since  the 
student  cannot  accurately  reconstruct  the  arche- 
type or  source  of  each  large  group,  he  turns  to 
the  appraisal  of  variants  in  specific  passages. 
Here  he  tries  to  select  that  reading  which  best 
suits  its  context  and  best  explains  the  origin 
of  the  other  readings  in  the  same  passage.  Be- 
yond this,  the  student  must  make  the  best- 
informed  and  most  judicious  guesses  possible 
to  him. 

III.  Summary 

The  problem  that  confronts  the  printer  or 
translator  of  the  New  Testament  is  one  of  selec- 
tion from  variant  readings  of  the  same  passage. 
A  lengthy  study  of  the  causes  of  these  variants 
illuminates  the  history  of'  the  New  Testament 
in  the  period  when  it  was  written  by  hand  and 
also  illustrates  the  method  by  which  the  prob- 
lem is  solved  in  particular  passages.  The  method 
is  basically  one  of  reversing  the  flow  of  history. 
In  history,  as  manuscript  begets  manuscript  the 
number  of  variant  readings  is  increased.  In 
manuscript  study  (textual  criticism  to  the 
scholar)  variant  readings  are  decreased  until  a 
reading  is  selected  which  may  be  regarded  as 
the  original  with  a  high  degree  of  probability. 

The  raw  materials  for  this  work  are  the 
handwritten  copies  of  the  New  Testament, 
whether  in  Greek  or  in  other  languages,  plus 
the  copies  of  the  fathers  who  quote  the  New 
Testament.  Most  essays  of  this  sort  devote  con- 
siderable time  to  summary  catalogues  of  these 
documents.  In  this  article  no  effort  has  been 

7  Problems  of  New  Testament  Translation  (Chicago: 
University  of  Chicago  Press,  1945),  pp.  115-16.  Used  by 
permission. 


made  to  present  such  a  catalogue.  The  hand- 
books noted  in  the  bibliography,  especially 
those  by  Kenyon  and  Vaganay,  provide  exten- 
sive though  not  comprehensive  information  on 
these  "materials  of  New  Testament  criticism." 
Since  the  discovery  of  hitherto  unknown  mate- 
rials proceeds  apace,  all  such  lists  are  out  of 
date  within  five  years  of  publication.  Only  the 
specialist  can  be  expected  to  keep  abreast  of 
this  flood. 

The  minister  and  the  educated  layman  can- 
not learn  anything  comprehensive  and  accurate 
about  the  manuscripts  themselves  from  brief 
statements.  Here  of  all  places  a  little  knowledge 
is  exceedingly  dangerous.  The  nonspecialist 
should  know  that  we  have  several  thousand 
manuscripts  of  the  New  Testament  in  Greek 
and  other  thousands  in  more  than  half  a  dozen 
important  translations  into  other  languages, 
with  at  least  a  score  of  church  fathers  to  be 
studied  either  in  printed  "critical"  editions  or 
in  handwritten  copies.  Beyond  this  the  non- 
specialist  must  clearly  understand  the  nature  of 
the  problem  and  the  methods  by  which  we  are 
steadily  though  slowly  arriving  at  more  accurate 
solutions. 

[Other  helpful  discussions  of  the  text  of  the 
New  Testament  can  be  found  in  the  Introduc- 
tion to  the  several  New  Testament  books.  See 
especially  Vol.  VII,  pp.  24446;  Vol.  VIII,  pp. 
19-22.] 

IV.  Selected  Bibliography 

COLWELL,    ERNEST    C.    The    Study    of    the    Bible. 

Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press,  1937.  Chs. 

ii-iii. 
GOODSPEED,  EDGAR  J.  The  Making  of  the  English  New 

Testament.  Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 

1925. 
KENYON,  FREDERIC  GEORGE.  The  Text  of  the  Greek 

Bible.  London:  Duckworth,  1937. 
LAKE,  KIRSOPP.  The  Text  of  the  New  Testament, 

ed.  Silva  New.  London:  Christophers,  1928. 
PRICE,  IRA  MAURICE.  The  Ancestry  of  Our  English 

Bible:  An  Account  of  Manuscripts,  Texts,  and 

Versions  of  the  Bible  f  ed.  W.  A.  Irwin  and  Allen 

Wikgren.  New  York:  Harper  &  Bros.,  1949. 
VAGANAY,   LEO.   An  Introduction   to   the   Textual 

Criticism  of  the  New  Testament,  tr.  B.  V.  Miller. 

St.  Louis:  B.  Herder  Book  Co.,  1937, 


83 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 

by  ALLEN  WIKGREN 


I,  Beginnings 
II.  The  Wycliffiie  Bible 

III.  Early  Translation  into  Other  Languages 

IV.  William  Tyndale  and  the  First  Printed  New 
Testament 

V.  George  Joye 

VI.  Miles  Coverdale  and  the  First  English  Bible 
VII.  The  First  Licensed  Bible,  1537 
VIII.  The  Taveraer  Bible  of  1539 
IX.  The   First   Authorized    Bible:    The    Great 

Bible  of  1539 
X.  The  Geneva  Bible 

The  Bible  is  by  far  the  most  translated  book 
in  the  world.  The  Jews  translated  their  scrip- 
tures into  Greek  and  other  languages,  and  the 
early  Christians  naturally  felt  the  need  of  bring- 
ing the  biblical  message  to  every  people  in  its 
own  tongue.1  The  modern  missionary  move- 
ments continued  and  expanded  these  efforts 
until  now  the  Bible  has  been  rendered  into  well 
over  a  thousand  languages  and  effectively  cir- 
culated in  printed  form  throughout  the  entire 
world. 

I,  Beginnings 

The  story  of  the  English  Bible  begins  with 
the  introduction  of  Christianity  into  Britain. 
When  and  how  that  happened  are  obscure,  but 
in  the  early  third  century  Tertullian  and 
Origen  witness  to  the  existence  of  British  Chris- 
tianity, the  former  stating  that  there  were  places 
in  Britain  subject  to  Christ  which  Roman  arms 
could  not  penetrate.  Initial  gains  by  the  church 
were  wiped  out  by  the  Teutonic  invasions  of  the 
fifth  century,  but  significant  advance  began 
again  with  the  coming  in  A.D.  597  of  mission- 
aries sent  out  by  Pope  Gregory,  and  Christianity 
became  firmly  established. 

In  Britain,  as  elsewhere,  missionary  work  pro- 
ceeded at  first  almost  entirely  by  means  of  the 
spoken  word.  Any  translation  of  the  Bible  con- 
sisted of  a  free  and  extemporaneous  treatment 
of  the  Latin  text  in  vernacular  speech.  In  ser- 
mon and  minstrel  song  the  Scriptures  thus  first 
became  known  in  the  earliest  English  form,  that 
is,  Anglo-Saxon;  and  soon  partial  translations 
and  paraphrases  were  put  into  writing  in  homi- 
lies, commentaries,  and  glosses  in  Latin  manu- 
*  See  pp.  32-83  in  this  volume. 


XL  The  Second  Authorized  Bible:  The  Bishops* 

Bible  of  1568 
XII.  The  First  Roman  Catholic  Bible  in  English 

XIII.  The  King  James  Version  of  1611 

XIV.  The  Revised  Version 

XV.  The  Modern  Speech  Versions 
XVI.  Jewish  and  Roman  Catholic  Versions 
XVII,  The  Revised  Standard  Version 
XVIII.  Story  Without  End 
XIX.  Tables  of  Illustrative  Readings 
XX.  Selected  Bibliography 


scripts,  A  complete  translation,  however,  is  un- 
known in  this  Anglo-Saxon  period.  No  real 
popular  demand  for  such  a  production  existed 
since  few  people  could  read,  and  manuscripts 
were  too  expensive  for  the  average  person  to 
buy.  A  Bible  for  laymen  was  also  unthinkable 
in  the  medieval  church,  which  saw  in  the  wide 
use  of  the  Bible  a  threat  to  unity  and  to  ecclesi- 
astical control  over  the  interpretation  of  the 
text,  as  well  as  a  profanation  of  the  Scriptures 
through  such  rough  dialects  as  the  Anglo-Saxon. 
Yet  much  of  the  biblical  contents  was  made 
known  through  ritual,  art,  religious  drama,  and 
Bible  picture  books,  the  so-called  Biblia  pau- 
perum  or  "Bibles  of  the  poor." 

In  the  earlier  period,  therefore,  we  have 
hardly  more  than  a  number  of  interesting  tradi- 
tions. A  certain  Caedmon,  a  seventh-century 
cowherd  of  northern  England,  overnight  be- 
came divinely  inspired  and  commissioned  to 
sing  versifications  of  the  biblical  stories  as  they 
were  translated  for  him  into  Anglo-Saxon.  Re- 
mains (although  later)  of  such  metrical  para- 
phrases are  to  be  found.  In  southern  England  at 
the  same  time,  that  is,  about  A.D.  700,  Abbot 
Aldhelm  is  reported  by  King  Alfred  the  Great 
to  have  used  the  minstrel  technique  effectively 
to  procure  an  audience,  and  Cynewulf,  greatest 
of  Anglo-Saxon  poets,  also  contributed  numer- 
ous biblical  allusions.  The  Venerable  Bede  is 
supposed  to  have  translated  the  Lord's  Prayer 
and  the  Apostles*  Creed  for  the  benefit  of  priests 
who  were  a  bit  weak  in  their  Latin,  and  to  have 
urged  a  contemporary  churchman,  Egbert,  to 
similar  activity.  To  Egbert  is  ascribed  a  transla- 
tion of  the  Gospels,  and  a  disciple,  Cuthbert, 
credits  Bede  with  a  version  of  the  Gospel  of 


84 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


John,  the  work  being  dramatically  completed  in 
Bede's  dying  moments.  By  the  middle  o£  the 
eighth  century,  then,  probably  all  the  Gospels 
existed  in  Anglo-Saxon.  In  the  late  ninth  cen- 
tury King  Alfred  apparently  promoted  biblical 
study  and  translation,  and  to  him  is  attributed 
among  other  things  an  Anglo-Saxon  version  of 
the  Decalogue,  which  headed  his  "Book  of 
Laws,"  and  an  unfinished  version  of  the  Psalter. 

Of  extant  Anglo-Saxon  versions  the  earliest 
is  probably  the  British  Museum's  Vespasian 
Psalter,  a  ninth-century  Latin  text  with  a  crude, 
interlinear  gloss  representing  middle  England 
speech.  A  similar  manuscript  in  the  Biblio- 
theque  Nationale,  the  Paris  Psalter,  contains  a 
southern  gloss.  It  has  been  ascribed  to  Alfred 
the  Great,  but  in  its  present  form  appears  to  be 
a  century  or  two  later.  About  a  dozen  such 
Psalters  are  known  from  the  ninth  and  tenth 
centuries.  Other  early  remains  consist  of  a  tenth- 
century  partial  gloss  of  Proverbs  and  eight 
copies  of  the  Gospels  in  various  dialects.  One 
of  these,  the  famous  Lindisfarne  Gospels,  is  a 
British  Museum  manuscript  copied  by  Eadfrid, 
bishop  of  Lindisfarne,  about  A.D.  687  and 
glossed  in  northern  speech.  It  is  also  beautifully 
illuminated.  A  similar  tenth-century  text, 
named  the  Rushworth  Gospels  after  its  donor, 
is  in  the  Bodleian  Library  at  Oxford.  The  other 
extant  manuscripts  are  all  probably  copies  or 
descendants  of  a  West-Saxon  document  of  about 
A.D.  1000,  ascribed  by  a  note  or  colophon  to 
Aelfric,  later  Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  who 
is  known  at  about  this  time  for  his  activity  in 
making  the  Scriptures  available  in  English. 
These  Gospels  contain  only  the  Anglo-Saxon 
text  and  deserve  rather  to  be  called  translations. 
Aelfric  did  make  a  condensed  version  of  the 
Pentateuch  and  translations  of  several  Old 
Testament  books  in  a  free  and  idiomatic  style. 
His  sermons  and  commentaries  also  contain 
translation  of  scriptural  text,  and  he  claims  to 
have  made  use  of  earlier  Anglo-Saxon  versions. 
Similar  sermonic  efforts  of  this  and  later  periods 
also  exist  in  such  works  as  the  Blickling  Homi- 
lies. 

Further  translation  was  discouraged  by  the 
Norman  Conquest  in  1066.  But  some  metrical 
paraphrases  based  on  Genesis  and  Exodus  cir- 
culated in  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries, 
and  a  similar  version  of  the  Gospels  and  Acts  is 
preserved  in  an  Oxford  manuscript  of  some 
twenty  thousand  lines  known  as  the  "Ormu- 
lum."  after  the  author,  Orm,  an  Augustinian 
monk  who  gave  as  the  motive  for  his  efforts, 
"that  all  young  Christian  folks  may  depend 
upon  the  gospel  only,  and  may  follow  with  all 
their  might  its  holy  teaching,  in  thought  and 
word  and  deed." 

In  the  face  of  the  French  usage  of  the  time 


the  Anglo-Saxon  persisted,  and  re-emerged, 
though  greatly  changed,  in  the  fourteenth  cen- 
tury, when  political  events  had  produced  a  new 
national  unity  and  consciousness,  and  literary 
activity  blossomed  forth  in  Chaucer  and  others. 
The  language  was  now  less  confused  by  dialec- 
tical variations. 

In  this  new  era  we  have  a  Psalter  in  Latin 
and  English  dated  about  1320  and  doubtfully 
attributed  to  the  poet  William  of  Shoreham; 
and  from  perhaps  a  few  years  later  comes  a 
gloss  found  in  another  Latin  Psalter  and  ac- 
credited to  Richard  Rolle,  the  "Hermit  of 
Hampole."  The  latter  was  copied  several  times 
for  a  century  or  so.  Other  ventures  of  some 
popularity  were  the  translation  (ca.  1360)  of  a 
French  text  and  commentary  on  Revelation, 
and  a  little  later  a  French-Latin  collection  of 
gospel  narratives  which  were  formed  into  a  kind 
of  harmony  of  the  life  of  Jesus  and  used  as  late 
as  the  fifteenth  century. 

The  language  of  these  early  versions,  espe- 
cially of  the  pre-Norman  period,  is  of  course 
quite  strange  to  us,  being  as  close  or  closer  to 
modern  Germanic  languages  than  to  modern 
English,  If  these  versions  exerted  any  influence 
upon  the  later  English  Bible,  it  was  mostly  in 
simplicity  and  directness  of  tone  and  expression. 

//.  The  Wydiffite  Bible 

So  far  as  we  know,  the  first  complete  English 
Bible  was  due  to  the  influence  and  activity  of 
John  Wycliffe  (1324M384),  the  able  and  elo- 
quent Oxford  scholar  called  the  "morning  star 
of  the  Reformation"  because  of  the  religious 
convictions  which  he  developed  and  propagated. 
In  common  with  later  Protestantism  he  empha- 
sized the  necessity  of  providing  the  layman  with 
the  opportunity  of  reading  the  Bible.  Since  he 
was  also  active  in  efforts  for  social  justice,  his 
appeal  was  widespread  among  the  common  peo- 
ple. After  his  forced  retirement  to  Lutterworth 
in  1382  and  his  death  in  1384,  his  followers,  the 
"poor  priests"  or  "Lollards,"  carried  on  his  work 
in  an  influential  traveling  ministry  of  teaching, 
preaching,  and  distribution  of  the  Scriptures. 
Wycliffe  managed  to  survive  the  attack  of  his 
enemies  and  to  die  a  natural  death.  But  his 
writings  were  banned,  and  the  Council  of  Con- 
stance in  1415  officially  ordered  his  body  as  well 
as  his  books  burned.  The  cause  of  religion  was 
thus  "advanced"  by  the  digging  up  and  burning 
of  his  bones  in  1428,  the  ashes  being  thrown 
into  the  river  Swift. 

The  dispersal  of  Wycliffe's  remains  was  sym- 
bolic, however,  of  real  religious  progress 
through  the  spread  of  the  Scriptures  which  he 
brought  about.  The  Wycliffite  Bible  has  justly 
been  described  as  an  event  rather  than  merely 
a  book,  both  on  this  account  and  because  of  its 


85 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


effect  upon  English  prose  style.  While  Wydiffe's 
exact  part  in  the  project  is  obscure,  he  never- 
theless appears  to  have  been  the  moving  spirit 
behind  it.  A  pupil  and  colleague,  Nicholas  of 
Hereford,  may  have  done  most  of  the  work, 
assisted  perhaps  by  another  friend,  John  Purvey. 
The  latter  also  is  credited,  though  uncertainly, 
with  the  revision  which  appeared  about  the 
year  1388  or  later  and  became  the  popular  and 
standard  form.  The  original  seems  to  have  been 
completed  in  1382,  or  a  little  later,  and  was 
more  literal  than  the  revision.  The  translation 
was  made  from  the  current  Latin  text,  and  so 
included  the  Old  Testament  apocryphal  books. 

A  definitive  attempt  to  distinguish  the  origi- 
nal Wycliffite  Bible  from  the  "Purvey  revision" 
was  not  made  until  1850,  when  J.  Forshall  and 
F.  Madden  published  the  complete  text  of  both 
in  four  volumes,  representing  the  result  of 
twenty-two  years  of  work  and  the  examination 
of  170  manuscripts.2  Strangely  enough,  this  also 
was  the  first  printing  of  the  complete  version, 
only  the  New  Testament  having  been  previously 
so  published,  the  Purvey  form  in  1731  and  the 
earlier  form  in  1848.  Printing  had  been  intro- 
duced into  England  in  1477  by  William  Caxton, 
and  much  scripture  circulated  in  other  publica- 
tions, for  example,  in  his  own  translation  of  the 
Golden  Legende,  which  contained  the  first 
printing  in  1483  of  portions  of  the  English 
Bible.  But  an  edict  of  1408  forbidding  unau- 
thorized translation  and  publication  in  English 
or  other  languages  appears  effectively  to  have 
discouraged  printing  of  the  Bible  as  such  in  the 
fifteenth  century. 

The  fact  of  the  survival  of  so  many  manu- 
scripts of  the  Wycliffite  Bible  in  spite  of  opposi- 
tion and  destruction  indicates  its  widespread 
influence.  Some  of  its  diction  and  phraseology 
and  much  of  its  spirit  lived  on  in  the  main- 
stream of  subsequent  translation  and  revision.8 
Replacing  a  number  of  similar  and  fragmentary 
attempts  at  translation  made  in  the  same  period, 
it  remained  the  only  English  Bible  until  the 
sixteenth  century. 

III.  Early  Translation  into  Other  Languages 

In  the  manuscript  era  a  development  of  ver- 
nacular versions  similar  to  that  in  England 
occurred  also  in  the  other  countries  of  western 
Europe.  Early  French  activity  seems  to  have 
culminated  in  a  Norman-French  Bible  made  at 
the  University  of  Paris  and  used  in  northern 
France  around  1250.  In  Germany  early  frag- 
mentary translation  is  exemplified  by  the 

2  The  Holy  Bible,  Containing  the  Old  and  New  Testa- 
ments, with  the  Apocryphal  Books,  in  the  Earliest  English 
Versions  Made  from  the  Latin  Vulgate  by  John  Wycliffe 
and  His  Followers  (Oxford:  University  Press,  1850). 

8  E.g.,  "compass  sea  and  land,"  "son  of  perdition/' 
"God  forbede,"  "peradventure." 


Monsee  fragment  of  Matthew,  by  a  gospel  har- 
mony, and  by  an  old  Saxon  poem  Heiland 
("Savior") ,  of  the  ninth  century.  Translations 
multiplied  so  rapidly  that  before  the  time  of 
Luther  about  fifty  complete  German  editions 
had  been  produced!  In  most  of  the  Western 
countries,  owing  doubtless  to  the  earlier  impact 
of  the  Reformation,  printed  editions  of  the 
Scriptures  appeared  sooner  than  in  England. 
Beginning  with  the  Strasbourg  German  Bible 
of  Mentel  in  1466,  there  were  eighteen  print- 
ings in  German  before  the  important  Luther 
New  Testament  of  1522  and  Bible  of  1534.  In 
French  the  first  printing,  a  New  Testament,  oc- 
curred about  1478  at  Lyons,  and  the  complete 
Bible  appeared  in  1487.  Even  before  this,  the 
Italians  (1471)  and  Dutch  (1477)  had  their 
Bible  in  the  printed  vernacular.  Swedish,  Bo- 
hemian, Slavonic,  Russian,  and  Danish  printing 
in  whole  or  in  part  preceded  English.  Other 
subsequent  editions  of  non-English  scripture 
will  be  mentioned  in  connection  with  the  Eng- 
lish versions  upon  which  they  exerted  an  in- 
fluence. 

IV.  William  Tyndale  and  the  First  Printed 
New  Testament 

With  the  sixteenth  century  we  enter  into  the 
most  creative  period  in  the  history  of  the  Eng- 
lish Bible.  It  was  a  time  of  bitter  Protestant- 
Catholic  conflict,  of  widespread  ignorance  of  the 
Scriptures,  even  among  the  clergy,  and  of  initial 
opposition  to  vernacular  translations  in  Eng- 
land by  both  Catholic  and  Anglican  alike.  But 
forces  were  at  work  in  the  Renaissance  and 
Reformation  which  in  a  very  few  years  led  to 
the  legal  dissemination  of  the  Bible  in  English. 
The  momentous  discovery  of  printing  took  place. 
The  Scriptures  were  made  known  in  their  origi- 
nal languages,  the  first  printed  Hebrew  Bible 
appearing  in  1488  and  the  first  Greek  New 
Testament,  the  edition  of  Erasmus,  in  1516. 
Scholars  like  Erasmus  and  reformers  like  Luther 
spoke  and  worked  for  the  right  of  all  to  read  the 
sacred  text.  The  vernacular  languages,  includ- 
ing English,  had  developed  to  the  point  where 
they  could  be  used  as  literary  mediums.  They, 
as  well  as  Hebrew  and  Greek,  were  studied  in 
the  newly  founded  universities.  These  and  other 
factors  combined  to  set  the  stage  for  the  pro- 
duction of  the  first  printed  English  Bible. 

At  this  time  William  Tyndale,  born  about 
1492  or  earlier,  and  educated  at  Oxford  and 
Cambridge,  came  upon  the  scene.  His  experi- 
ence as  chaplain  and  tutor  led  him  to  the  con- 
viction that  "it  was  impossible  to  stablysh  the 
laye  people  in  any  truth,  excepte  the  scripture 
were  playnly  layde  before  their  eyes  in  their 


86 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


mother  tonge."  *  And  to  a  prominent  church- 
man of  his  time  he  addressed  his  well-known 
words:  "If  God  spare  my  lyfe,  ere  many  yeares 
I  wyl  cause  a  boye  that  dryveth  the  plough  shall 
know  more  of  the  scripture  than  thou  doest!"  5 
For  the  task  which  he  set  himself  Tyndale  was 
well  qualified  both  by  an  excellent  knowledge 
of  Greek  and  Hebrew  and  by  an  ability  to  write 
English  of  such  felicity  of  phraseology  and 
simple,  graceful  style  that  it  has  become  im- 
mortalized in  the  English  Bible. 

Another  necessary  quality  which  Tyndale 
possessed  was  perseverance  in  the  face  of  opposi- 
tion, calumny,  and  persecution.  For  the  clergy, 
with  government  support,  were  still  opposed  to 
translation  in  general,  and  in  particular  disliked 
Tyndale's  developing  Protestant  views.  His  vig- 
orous denunciation  of  the  clergy  did  not  help 
his  cause.  His  own  account  tells  of  inability  to 
find  support  for  his  project  in  England  from 
Bishop  Tunstall  of  London,  and  of  the  neces- 
sity of  going  to  the  Continent  to  pursue  the 
work.  He  was  befriended  by  a  London  mer- 
chant, Humphrey  Monmouth,  in  whose  home 
he  apparently  began  his  translation.  There  also 
he  may  first  have  become  informed  about  the 
tenets  of  Lutheranism,  and  been  led  to  realize 
"not  only  that  there  was  no  rowme  in  my  lorde 
of  londons  palace  to  translate  the  new  testa- 
ment, but  also  that  there  was  no  place  to  do  it 
in  all  englonde." 6 

In  1524,  therefore,  Tyndale  left  for  Hamburg, 
and  by  the  middle  of  1525  his  New  Testament 
was  complete  and  printing  was  begun  at  Co- 
logne. A  quarto  edition  was  interrupted  by  the 
authorities  at  the  instigation  of  a  bitter  enemy 
of  the  reformers,  Cochlaeus  (Johan  Dobneck) . 
From  it  only  a  thirty-one  leaf  fragment  of  Mat- 
thew in  the  British  Museum  is  extant,  although 
it  is  believed  that  three  thousand  copies  were 
published  after  the  work  was  resumed  at 
Worms.  Here  also  an  anonymous  octavo  edition 
of  the  same  size  was  first  published.  So  vigorous 
was  the  opposition  of  the  English  authorities, 
however,  and  so  zealously  did  king  and  bishops 
collaborate  to  destroy  the  Tyndale  publications 
as  they  were  smuggled  into  England,  that  only 
two  copies  of  this  octavo  issue  survived,  and  one 
of  these  is  very  fragmentary.  One,  lacking  only 
the  title  page,  is  in  the  Baptist  College  at  Bris- 
tol, England.  The  other  is  preserved  in  the 
library  of  St.  Paul's  Cathedral,  London.  Tyn- 
dale, however,  was  enabled  to  continue  for  some 
time  by  the  support  of  certain  London  mer- 

*  Alfred  W.  Pollard,  Records  of  the  English  Bible 
(Oxford:  Henry  Frowde,  1911),  p.  95. 

8  John  Foxe,  The  Acts  and  Monuments  of  the  Church 
(ed.  M.  Hobart  Seymour;  New  York:  Robert  Carter  & 
Bros.,  1855),  p.  542. 

«  Pollard,  op.  tit.,  pp.  97-98. 


chants,  in  particular  of  one  Augustine  Packyn- 
ton,  who  contrived  to  raise  money  by  selling 
New  Testaments  to  the  Bishop  of  London  for 
burning,  thus  keeping  both  Tyndale  and  the 
bishop's  bonfire  going. 

Tyndale's  association  with  Luther  at  Witten- 
berg and  his  manifest  indebtedness  to  Luther's 
German  New  Testament  were  special  reasons 
for  official  condemnation.  The  single-column, 
Gothic  black-letter  type,  the  prologue,  prefaces, 
and  marginal  notes  showed  the  influence  of  the 
reformer's  edition.  The  authorities  were  also 
provoked  by  the  substitution  of  new  terms  for 
certain  ecclesiastically  sacred  ones,  such  as 
"elder"  for  "priest,"  "repentance"  for  "pen- 
ance," "congregation"  for  "church,"  etc. 

A  revision  by  Tyndale  was  issued  in  1534; 
and  another  corrected  edition  published  in 
1535  became  the  basis  for  all  later  revision.  The 
Greek  text  underlying  the  work  remained  close 
to  the  Erasmus  editions  of  1519  and  1522,  un- 
fortunately for  the  accuracy  of  the  English  New 
Testament  for  years  to  come. 

Tyndale  also  undertook  to  translate  the  Old 
Testament  and  made  a  significant  contribution 
to  that  end,  although  unable  to  complete  the 
work  before  his  death.  He  published  the  Penta- 
teuch in  1530  and  Jonah  in  1531.  But  the 
authorities  finally  apprehended  him  through 
the  treachery  of  a  friend,  and  after  an  imprison- 
ment of  a  year  and  a  half  near  Brussels  (during 
which  he  probably  completed  the  text  through 
Chronicles),  he  was  strangled  and  burned  at 
the  stake  on  October  6,  1536.  His  famous  dying 
prayer,  according  to  Foxe,  was  "Lord,  open  the 
King  of  England's  eyes."  7  Meanwhile,  the  situa- 
tion in  England  had  already  changed  for  the 
better  under  Cromwell,  who  had  even  sought 
Tyndale's  release,  and  a  complete  English  Bible 
was  now  in  relatively  unimpeded  circulation. 

The  creative  nature  of  Tyndale's  work  cannot 
be  overestimated.  Though  he  freely  consulted 
the  Vulgate,  Luther,  and  Erasmus*  new  Latin 
version,  and  was  doubtless  influenced  here  and 
there  by  the  current  Wycliffite  English,  his  pro- 
duction is  characterized  by  great  originality  and 
vigor.  It  became,  in  fact,  a  foundation  for  all 
subsequent  efforts  of  revision,  so  much  so  that 
80  per  cent  or  more  of  the  English  down 
through  the  Revised  Version  has  been  estimated 
to  be  basically  his  in  those  portions  of  the  Bible 
in  which  he  wrought  with  such  skill  and  devo- 
tion.8 

*  Op.  dt.,  p.  544. 

8  Recent  special  studies  include  Henry  Guppy,  William 
Tindale  and  the  Earlier  Translators  of  the  Bible  into 
English  (London:  Longmans,  Green  &  Co.,  1925);  J.  F. 
Mozley,  William  Tyndale  (New  York:  The  Macmillan 
Co.,  1937);  S.  L.  Greenslade,  ed.,  The  Work  of  William 
Tindale  (London:  Blackie  &  Son,  1938), 


87 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


V.  George  Joye 

A  former  friend  and  collaborator  of  Tyn- 
dale's, George  Joye,  deserves  mention  at  this 
point  as  a  contributor  to  the  growing  number 
of  biblical  books  printed  in  English.  Joye  had 
incurred  Tyndale's  disfavor  by  bringing  out 
unauthorized  revisions  of  the  latter's  New 
Testament  in  1534  and  1535,  and  a  sharp  con- 
troversy ensued  between  the  two.  He  should 
apparently  be  credited,  however,  with  the  trans- 
lation and  publication  of  a  portion  of  the  Old 
Testament  extending  from  Psalms  through 
Lamentations.  This  includes  a  rendering  of 
Isaiah  from  the  Latin  (1531)  which  exerted 
some  influence  upon  Coverdale's  version  of 
1535,  a  translation  of  Jeremiah  and  Lamenta- 
tions (1534)  which  included  the  "Song  of 
Moses"  to  "magnify  ye  our  Lorde  for  the  fall  of 
our  Pharao  the  bishop  of  Rome,"  probably  an 
edition  of  Proverbs  and  Ecclesiastes  (1535) , 
and  a  Psalter  (1534) ,  some  readings  of  which 
have  continued  down  through  the  King  James 
Version.  He  has  recently  been  credited  with  the 
possible  authorship  of  the  first  Psalter  printed 
in  English,  a  translation  from  Latin  pseudony- 
mously  published  in  1550,8  Joye's  style  is  rather 
free,  a  reflection  of  his  attitude  appearing  in  a 
declaration  that  "as  for  me  I  had  as  lief  put  the 
trwthe  in  the  text  as  in  the  margent,"  and  "I 
wolde  the  scripture  were  so  purely  and  playnly 
translated  that  it  neded  nether  note,  glose  nor 
scholia,  so  that  the  reder  might  once  swimme 
without  a  corke."  10 

VI.  Miles  Coverdale  and  the  First  English  Bible 

The  completion  and  publication  of  the  first 
complete  printed  English  Bible  was,  however, 
the  work  of  Miles  Coverdale  (1488-1568). 
Coverdale  had  studied  at  Cambridge,  had  be- 
come a  priest  and  friar,  and  had  apparently  also 
found  it  discreet  to  spend  some  years  outside  of 
England  because  of  Protestant  convictions,  He 
became  acquainted  with  Tyndale  and  his  work, 
and  may  have  been  encouraged  to  attempt  a 
complete  edition,  of  the  English  Scriptures, 
while  still  abroad,  by  statements  of  King  Henry 
VIII  favorable  to  an  English  Bible  "by  great 
lerned  and  Catholyke  persones,"  and  by  activi- 
ties of  similar  import  by  Archbishop  Latimer 
and  Thomas  Cromwell.  The  edition  which  he 
published  in  1535,  printed  perhaps  at  Cologne 
or  Marburg,  was  not  authorized  in  any  way,  but 

8  Charles  C  Butterworth,  The  Literary  Lineage  of  the 
King  James  Bible  (Philadelphia:  University  of  Pennsyl- 
vania Press,  1941),  pp.  64-70,  87-91.  The  version  was 
faiily  popular,  especially  in  connection  with  various 
devotional  books  known  as  "primers,"  and  together  with 
an  independent  version  of  the  Psalter,  found  in  the 
latter,  it  represents  frequent  literary  linkage  between 
the  Wychffite  and  later  forms. 
10  Pollard,  op  at.,  pp.  194-95. 


Coverdale  dedicated  it  to  the  king  and  queen 
in  polite  and  nattering  phraseology,  and  it  met 
with  no  serious  opposition.  (The  elaborate 
woodcut  title  page  by  Holbein  shows  the  king 
handing  out  the  Bible  to  the  clergy.)  This 
toleration  is  particularly  noteworthy  because 
Tyndale's  translation  was  the  basis  of  the  work 
in  the  New  Testament  and  Pentateuch. 

Hostility  toward  the  version  was  doubtless 
lessened  by  Coverdale's  mild  disposition  and 
tractable  attitude.  In  his  dedication  he  declares, 
"I  have  nether  wrested  nor  altered  so  moch  as 
one  worde  for  the  mayntenaunce  of  any  maner 
of  secte."  In  notes  and  prologues  he  eliminated 
controversial  data,  and  in  the  text  he  restored 
most  of  the  ecclesiastically  favored  terms  which 
Tyndale  had  altered.  It  is  quite  possible  also 
that  the  first  edition  was  anonymous,  and  that 
the  dedicatory  "Epistle  unto  the  Kynges  hygh- 
nesse,"  signed  by  Coverdale,  first  appeared  in 
a  1537  reprinting  by  James  Nicolson.  The  origi- 
nal title  page  read:  "Biblia:  The  Bible  /  that  is, 
the  holy  Scripture  of  the  Olde  and  New  Testa- 
ment, faithfully  and  truly  translated  out  of 
Douche  and  Latyn  in  to  English.  M.D-XXXV  " 
Other  editions  of  the  same  year  printed  in  Eng- 
land omitted  the  reference  to  Dutch  (i.e.,  Ger- 
man) and  Latin,  which  implied  Lutheran  and 
Catholic  connections,  and  modified  a  prefatory 
reference  to  dependence  upon  Luther. 

Actually,  Coverdale  did  translate  from  the 
Latin  and  German  in  those  sections  of  the  Old 
Testament  in  which  he  did  not  use  Tyndale. 
It  is  generally  doubted  that  he  knew  much  if 
any  Hebrew,  but  his  acquaintance  with  German 
was  good.  He  states  in  his  dedication  that  he 
translated  out  of  "fyve  sundry  interpreters"; 
and  besides  Tyndale,  these  have  been  identified 
as  the  Vulgate,  Luther,  Pagninus'  rather  literal 
Latin  translation  of  1528,  and  the  Zurich  Swiss- 
German  Bible  of  1527-29  by  Leo  Juda,  Zwingli, 
and  others.  The  Vulgate  rather  than  the  He- 
brew order  of  books  was  used  in  the  Old  Testa- 
ment, and  the  Apocrypha  are  included,  al- 
though their  authority  is  questioned.  The  for- 
mat and  type  resembled  Tyndale's,  but  the  text 
was  set  in  double  columns  and  decorated  with 
sixty-eight  woodcuts,  and  chapter  summaries 
were  introduced. 

In  general,  the  Tyndale  portions  of  the  edi- 
tion are  superior  in  quality,  but  Coverdale  often 
improved  the  phrasing  by  reason  of  a  special 
aptitude  for  euphonious  English  and  for  a 
fluent,  although  frequently  diffuse,  form  of  ex- 
pression. While  the  work  is  uneven  in  this 
respect,  some  permanent  contribution  was  thus 
made  to  the  language  of  the  English  Bible,  here 
as  well  as  in  later  improvements  of  his  which 
appeared  in  three  editions  of  the  Latin-English 
New  Testament  (1538)  and  in  the  Great  Bible 


88 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


of  1539.  In  particular,  his  version  of  the  Psalter, 
as  it  appears  in  the  latter,  has  remained  a  part 
of  the  Anglican  Prayer  Book  to  this  day.  Phrase- 
ology appearing  here  first  with  Coverdale  in- 
cluded "Thou  anoyntest  my  heade  with  oyle"; 
"the  valley  of  the  shadowe  of  deeth";  "but  the 
way  of  the  vngodly  shal  perishe"  (see  also  table 
on  pp.  101-4) . 

Vll.  The  First  Licensed  Bible,  1537 

Developing  opinion  in  favor  of  an  English 
Bible  available  to  all  without  fear  or  favor  now 
appeared  in  the  renewal  of  a  request  to  the 
king  by  the  bishops.  With  a  new  translation  by 
the  bishops  in  mind,  an  injunction  was  actually 
drawn  up  in  1536,  but  not  published  until  1538, 
instructing  the  clergy  to  provide  both  a  Latin 
and  English  Bible  for  every  parish  church. 
Meanwhile,  two  Bibles  were  published  in  1537 
which  claimed  to  be  licensed  by  the  king.  One, 
the  printing  of  Coverdale  by  James  Nicolson, 
probably  merely  assumed  this  status;  the  other, 
of  obscure  origin,  but  published  under  the 
name  of  Thomas  Matthew,  perhaps  at  Antwerp, 
obtained  official  support.11 

Although  this  version  largely  followed  Tyn- 
dale,  incorporating  also  here  for  the  first  time 
his  Old  Testament  translations  of  Joshua 
through  Chronicles,  and  even  reintroducing  his 
prologues  and  notes,  Cranmer,  in  his  interces- 
sion with  Cromwell  to  obtain  royal  approval, 
intimated  that  this  was  a  "new  Bible,  both  of  a 
new  translacion  and  of  a  new  prynte,"  and 
claimed  that  "so  farre  as  I  have  redde  thereof 
I  like  it  better  than  any  other  translacion  here- 
tofore made."  Rather  than  cast  aspersions  upon 
Cranmer's  Bible  reading,  we  may  suppose  that 
he  was  motivated  by  the  desire  to  have  some- 
thing to  serve  until  the  production  of  the  pro- 
jected bishops'  version,  which  in  his  appeal  to 
Cromwell  he  pessimistically  dated  at  "a  day 
after  domesday."  Whether  king  or  counselors 
were  acquainted  with  the  facts  about  the  re- 
vision is  uncertain,  but  the  mysterious  circum- 
stances of  its  origin  may  reflect  an  attempt  to 
cover  up  the  rather  embarrassing  approval  of  a 
Bible  so  largely  the  work  of  a  man  whose  trans- 
lations were  officially  condemned  and  who  him- ' 
self  had  just  been  burned  at  the  stake  as  a 
heretic. 

Although  a  Thomas  Matthew  of  Colchester 
is  known  in  connection  with  earlier  biblical 
study,  the  work  on  the  Bible  of  1537  is  generally 
attributed  to  John  Rogers,  a  Cambridge  gradu- 
ate and  friend  of  Tyndale,  who  in  1555  became 

"The  title  page  read:  "The  Byble,  which  is  all  the 
holy  Scripture:  In  whych  are  conteyned  the  Olde  and 
Newe  Testament,  truly  and  purely  translated  into 
Englysh  by  Thomas  Matthew  .  .  .M.D.XXXVU,  Set 
forth  with  the  Kinges  most  gracyous  lycence," 


the  protomartyr  in  the  persecution  of  Protes- 
tants under  Bloody  Mary.  There  is  little  depar- 
ture from  the  Tyndaie  text,  but  the  influence 
of  Olivtkan's  French  Bible  of  1535  and  Lef£vre's 
French  Bible  of  1534  is  evident  in  the  margin- 
alia, in  a  new  preface  to  the  Apocrypha,  and  in 
the  added  "Prayer  of  Manasses."  Whatever  the 
true  circumstances  of  its  origin  and  publication, 
the  Matthew  Bible  is  notable  for  its  official 
status,  for  its  use  of  the  heretofore  unpublished 
Tyndale  portions  of  the  Old  Testament,  and 
for  the  fact  that  it  became  the  chief  basis  for 
future  revisions. 

VHL  The  Taverner  Bible  of  1539 

In  1539  a  revision  of  the  Matthew  Bible, 
minus  most  of  the  notes  and  polemic  data,  was 
issued  by  Richard  Taverner  at  the  instigation 
of  Cromwell  or  of  the  king's  printer,  Thomas 
Barthlet.  The  title  was  as  follows:  "The  Most 
Sacred  Bible:  Whiche  is  the  holy  scripture, 
conteyning  the  old  and  new  testament,  trans- 
lated in  to  English,  and  newly  recognised  with 
great  diligence  after  most  faythful  exemplars, 
by  Rychard  Taverner.  . . .  Prynted  at  London  in 
Fletestrete.  ...  by  lohn  Byddell,  for  Thomas 
Barthlet.  .  .  .  M.D.XXXIX."  Taverner  was  a 
Cambridge  and  Oxford  student  who  had  been 
interested  for  some  time  in  the  English  Bible. 
He  knew  Greek  well,  and  especially  therefore  in 
'the  New  Testament  he  introduced  some  inde- 
pendent renderings  of  real  merit,  several  of  which 
entered  into  subsequent  English  revisions.  But 
this  version  was  soon  superseded  by  another  re- 
vision and  therefore  exercised  relatively  little  in- 
fluence within  the  mainstream  of  the  English 
Bible.  It  does  have  the  honor  of  being  the  first 
to  be  printed  completely  in  England. 

IX.  The  First  Authorized  Bible:  The  Great 
Bible  of  1539 

A  more  significant  revision  appeared  in  the 
same  year  with  the  "Great  Bible,"  so  called  from 
its  size,  or  "Cranmer's  Bible,"  from  a  preface  to 
the  second  edition  (1540)  written  by  the  arch- 
bishop. It  may  owe  its  origin  mainly  to  a  reac- 
tion of  the  clergy  against  the  Matthew  Bible, 
whose  true  content  they  had  discovered.  Yet  it 
was  undertaken  by  Coverdale  at  Cromwell's  re- 
quest. There  was  some  episcopal  supervision  in 
the  fourth  and  sixth  of  the  seven  editions  which 
were  published,  and  the  title  page  refers  the 
work  to  "dyverse  excellent  learned  men."  Who 
these  were  is  unknown,  unless  the  reference  is 
to  those  responsible  for  the  various  earlier  trans- 
lations and  other  sources  used  in  the  revision. 
For,  in  particular,  use  was  made  of  Munster's 
Latin  Old  Testament  (1534-35) »  the  Vulgate, 
and  especially  in  the  1540  edition,  of  Erasmus' 
Latin  New  Testament  and  the  Complutensian 


89 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


Polyglot.12  As  the  first  and,  in  fact,  the  only 
formally  "authorized"  English  Bible,  it  is  of 
special  significance  in  our  story.  The  1540  and 
subsequent  editions  carried  on  the  title  page  the 
explicit  words:  "This  is  the  Byble  apoynted  to 
the  use  of  the  churches."  13 

Except  for  its  larger  size,  the  Great  Bible 
does  not  differ  much  in  format  from  previous 
revisions.  However,  the  reactions  against  con- 
troversial prologues  and  marginalia  now  re- 
sulted in  the  removal  of  all  such  adjuncts  to  the 
text.  Coverdale  himself  had  projected  explana- 
tory notes  for  the  first  edition  and  was  very 
much  disappointed,  as  he  wrote  to  Cromwell, 
that  "the  darck  places  of  the  text  (vpon  the 
which  I  haue  allwaye  set  a  hande)  shulde  so 
passe  vndeclared." 14  The  pointing  hands  ac- 
tually appeared  in  the  margins  of  the  first  three 
editions,  but  the  notes  were  never  made.  There 
was  no  dedication,  but  a  special  feature  serving 
the  same  purpose  was  an  elaborate  title  page 
woodcut,  often  wrongly  attributed  to  Holbein,15 
which  shows  King  Henry  VIII  receiving  and  dis- 
tributing the  "Wore!  of  God"  through  his  minis- 
ters Cranmer  and  Cromwell  to  the  people  amid 
their  shouts  of  Vivat  Rex  and  "God  save  the 
King,"  Private  interpretation  of  the  Bible  was 
still  feared,  however,  as  indicated  by  statements 
in  the  preface  and  in  royal  proclamations  of 
1541  and  later.  The  reference  of  difficulties  to 
men  of  higher  judgment  in  the  Scriptures  was 
recommended,  and  disputations  were  forbidden, 
especially  in  taverns  and  alehouses.  The  people 
now  had  a  certain  access  to  the  Bible  in  the 
church  and  they  were  making  the  most  of  it;  the 
authorities  thought  they  were  making  too  much 
of  it. 

Beginning  about  this  time,  however,  and  ex- 
tending to  the  end  of  the  reign  of  Henry  VIII,  a 
Catholic  reaction  set  in  which  effectively  halted 
the  publication  of  the  Bible  in  England  for 
some  years.  The  year  1540  saw  the  execution  of 
Cromwell  and  the  burning  of  both  Protestants 
and  papists  for  heresy.  In  1543  restrictions  were 
placed  upon  the  reading  of  the  Bible,  and  in 

12  A  Hebrew-Greek-Latin  edition  of  the  Bible  (Latin- 
Greek  in  the  New  Testament)  published  in  four  volumes 
at  Complutum  (Alcali  de  Henares),  Spain  by  Cardinal 
Ximenes  in  1522-26. 

18  The  original  (1539)  title  page  read:  "The  Byble  in 
Englyshe,  that  is  to  saye  the  content  of  all  the  holy 
scrypture,  bothe  of  ye  olde  and  newe  testament,  truly 
translated  after  the  veryte  of  the  Hebrue  and  Greke 
textes,  by  ye  dylygent  studye  of  dyverse  excellent  learned 
men,  expert  in  the  forsayde  tonges.  Prynted  by  Kychard 
Grafton  and  Edward  Whitchurch.  Cum  privilegio  ad 
imprimendum  solum.  1539." 

n  Pollard,  op.  at ,  p.  245. 

*s  This  is  the  conclusion  of  H.  R.  Willoughby's  careful 
investigation  as  recorded  in  a  quatrocentennial  publica- 
tion, The  First  Authorized  English  Bible  and  the 
Cranmer  Preface  (Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
1942). 


1546  a  general  burning  of  Bibles  commenced. 
The  authorized  Great  Bible  alone  was  allowed, 
and  its  reading  was  limited  to  the  upper  classes. 
Although  the  brief  reign  of  Edward  VI  afforded 
the  Protestant  forces  some  opportunity  for  re- 
covery and  advance,  and  the  restrictions  on  the 
Bible  were  removed,  the  intemperate  form  of 
some  of  the  Protestant  iconoclasm  of  the  period, 
when  added  to  the  previous  Cromwellian  "ter- 
ror," made  inevitable  the  continuation  of  reac- 
tion upon  the  accession  of  Mary  Tudor  in  1553. 
The  situation  was  again  reversed.  A  severe 
Catholic  persecution  ensued,  which  resulted  in 
some  three  hundred  martyrs,  including  men 
like  Cranmer,  Ridley,  and  Latimer.  Many, 
among  them  Coverdale,  took  refuge  on  the 
Continent,  and  not  a  few  gathered  in  Geneva, 
where  they  found  a  sympathetic  welcome. 
Among  these  refugees  the  next  great  contribu- 
tion to  the  promulgation  of  the  Scriptures  in 
English  was  made  in  the  preparation  and  publi- 
cation of  the  so-called  "Geneva  Bible." 

X.  The  Geneva  Bible 

The  purpose  and  character  of  the  new 
Geneva  revision  reflect  this  geographically  con- 
centrated Protestantism.  Calvin,  Knox,  Beza, 
and  for  a  time  Coverdale  were  in  touch  with 
the  work.  Important  contacts  were  probably 
made  with  a  group  of  scholars  revising  the 
French  Bible  of  Olivdtan.16 

Although  no  names  appear  on  the  New  Testa- 
ment, %vhich  was  published  in  1557,  the  work 
is  mainly  credited  to  William  Whittingham,  a 
brother-in-law  of  Calvin,  who  was  an  able 
scholar  and  the  successor  of  John  Knox  as  min- 
ister to  the  English  congregation  at  Geneva. 
The  Old  Testament  was  done  by  a  group  in- 
cluding Anthony  Gilby,  Thomas  Sampson,  and 
others  of  uncertain  identity. 

Notwithstanding  the  valuable  contribution 
of  those  who  participated,  the  result  was  defi- 
nitely a  revision  of  previous  work.  In  the  New 
Testament,  Tyndale's  1534  edition  was  the  chief 
basis,  with  important  suggestions  from  Beza's 
Latin  text  and  commentary  of  1556.17  The  Old 
Testament  consisted  of  a  revision  of  the  Great 
Bible  by  a  careful  reference  to  the  Hebrew  and 
with  the  guidance  of  the  Latin  editions  of 
Pagninus,  Mtinster,  and  Leo  Juda,  The  Old 
Testament  was  published  together  with  a  care- 
ful revision  of  the  New  Testament  in  1560,  the 

*6So  David  Baiches,  The  King  James  Version  of  the 
English  Bible  (Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
1941).  He  shows  that  it  was  the  model  for  a  table  on 
Hebrew  names  and  on  "the  chief  and  principal  matteis 
of  the  whole  Bible." 

*7B.  F.  Westcott,  A  General  View  of  the  History  vf 
the  English  Bible  (3d  ed.,  rev.  W.  A  Wright;  London: 
Macmillan  &  Co.,  1905),  has  shown  that  in  I  John  :it 
least  two  thirds  of  the  new  renderings  are  from  Be/,a. 


90 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


first  edition  of  the  complete  Geneva  Bible,  or, 
as  it  is  sometimes  called  from  the  translation  in 
Gen.  3:7,  the  "Breeches  Bible."  18  The  title  page 
of  the  1560  Bible  read:  "The  Bible  and  Holy 
Scriptures  conteyned  in  the  Olde  and  Newe 
Testament.  Translated  according  to  the  Ebrue 
and  Greke,  and  conferred  with  the  best  transla- 
tions in  divers  languages.  With  most  profitable 
annotations  vpon  all  the  hard  places,  and  other 
things  of  great  importance  as  may  appeare  in 
the  Epistle  to  the  Reader.  At  Geneva.  Printed 
by  Rouland  Hall.  M.D.LX."  To  Queen  Eliza- 
beth, who  had  succeeded  to  the  throne  in  1558 
and  had  re-established  the  Church  of  England, 
the  Geneva  Bible  was  optimistically  dedicated, 
along  with  some  pious  exhortation  on  building 
the  church  and  putting  all  papists  to  the  sword. 

The  new  revision  was  the  most  scholarly  and 
accurate  English  Bible  so  far  produced,  and 
represented  the  most  creative  development  since 
Tyndale.  The  revisers  themselves  in  their  pref- 
ace modestly  explain  how  "in  respect  of  this 
ripe  age  and  cleare  light  which  God  had  now 
revetted,  the  translations  required  greatly  to  be 
perused  and  reformed,"  and  give  a  strong  Prot- 
estant statement  of  the  importance  of  an  Eng- 
lish Bible  for  the  common  man.  The  under- 
standing of  the  text  was  furthered  by  a  profuse 
marginal  commentary,  again  of  strongly  Protes- 
tant, even  sometimes  Calvinistic,  tenor,  "I  have 
endevered  so  to  profitt  all  therby,"  ran  the 
preface  of  the  1557  New  Testament,  "that  both 
the  learned  and  others  might  be  holpen. . . ." 

The  marginal  notes  contributed  greatly  to 
the  popularity  of  the  version  among  Protestants 
in  general.  Royalty  and  clergy,  however,  and 
especially  Roman  Catholic  circles,  were  dis- 
turbed by  certain  of  the  interpretations.  A  note 
on  Exod.  1:19  approving  of  the  midwives*  lying 
to  Pharaoh  was  considered  a  reflection  on  royal 
prerogatives.  The  Pope  naturally  objected  to 
being  identified  with  "the  angel  of  the  bottom- 
less pit"  (Rev.  9:11),  as  "Antichrist  the  Pope, 
king  of  hypocrites  and  Satan's  ambassadour." 
But  not  all  notes  were  polemic,  and  their  ap- 
parent bias  can  rarely  be  said  to  extend  into  the 
text  itself.  Alternative  translations,  exposition, 
and  explanations  of  various  kinds  all  made  up 
the  "most  profitable  annotations  vpon  all  the 
hard  places." 

Several  other  novel  features  contributed  to 
the  usefulness  and  popularity  of  this  Bible. 
Roman  type  was  used  for  the  first  time.  Division 
of  the  chapters  into  verses  first  appeared  in 
English  and  became  the  basis  of  all  versification 
in  later  English  Bibles.  The  Hebrew  Old  Testa- 
ment had  long  been  divided  (by  Jewish  schol- 
ars, the  Masoretes)  into  sections  or  paragraphs 

18  The  term  "breeches"  had  occurred  here,  however, 
in  Wycliffe  and  in  Caxton's  Golden  Legende. 


91 


but  these  were  supplanted  in  the  Compluten- 
sian  Polyglot  of  1522-26  by  the  Vulgate  chapter 
division,  probably  devised  by  Stephen  Langton 
in  the  thirteenth  century  for  Old  and  New 
Testaments.  This  appeared  in  all  English  Bibles. 
The  versification  of  Old  Testament  and  Apoc- 
rypha, originating  with  the  Masoretes,  ap- 
peared in  Pagninus'  Latin  of  1528,  and  was 
taken  over  by  the  Geneva  version  in  substan- 
tially the  same  form  in  which  it  is  given  in  a 
later  (1556-57)  edition.  The  New  Testament 
versification  was  made  by  Robert  Estienne  for 
his  Greek  edition  of  1551,  from  which  it  was 
probably  incorporated  into  the  Geneva  via 
Beza's  Latin  of  1556.  The  practice  of  italicizing 
English  words  not  represented  in  the  original 
text  was  introduced  from  Pagninus  and  Beza, 
a  practice  which  was  to  continue  down  through 
the  Revised  Version.  The  convenient  quarto  size 
and  consequently  cheaper  price  also  contributed 
to  its  popularity;  and  besides  the  marginal  com- 
mentary, a  variety  of  "helps,"  including  maps, 
tables,  woodcuts,  chapter  summaries,  running 
titles,  and,  after  1579,  a  Calvinistic  catechism, 
added  to  its  usefulness. 

As  a  result  of  these  various  features  and  the 
superior  and  attractive  character  of  the  version 
itself,  the  Geneva  Bible  enjoyed  an  immediate 
and  widespread  reception  and  usage.  It  soon 
became  the  household  Bible  of  English-speaking 
Protestantism  and  so  remained  for  nearly  a 
century.  It  was  the  Bible  of  Shakespeare,  of 
John  Bunyan,  of  Cromwell's  army,  of  the  Puri- 
tan pilgrims,  and  of  King  James  himself.  It 
even  colors  a  scripture  quotation  in  the  preface 
of  the  King  James  Version  1  About  180  editions 
of  various  sorts,  96  complete,  were  published,  8 
of  them  appearing  after  the  publication  of  the 
King  James  Version  in  1611.  Although  never 
officially  endorsed,  it  exerted  a  fundamental 
influence  upon  its  "authorized"  successors. 

XI.  The  Second  Authorized  Bible:  The  Bishops? 
Bible  of  156B 

The  popularity  and  superiority  of  the  Geneva 
Bible  were  irksome  to  the  church  and  state. 
Elizabeth's  policy  of  toleration  also  had  made  it 
possible  for  all  previous  versions  to  circulate, 
and  the  Great  Bible  was  unable  to  maintain  a 
position  commensurate  with  its  official  preroga- 
tive. An  attempt  was  made,  therefore,  to  pro- 
duce a  revision  which  might  supplant  the  Ge- 
neva and  other  competing  editions.  Archbishop 
Parker,  who  became  the  leader  of  the  under- 
taking, really  a  revival  of  Cranmer's  project, 
formed  a  committee  of  revisers  in  1564; 1$>  and 

*•  A  fairly  accurate,  although  not  quite  certain  or  com- 
plete, list  has  been  compiled  from  an  account  by  Parker 
and  from  the  revisers'  initials  affixed  to  the  various  parts 
of  the  work.  A  reconstruction  is  given  by  Pollard,  op.  dt,, 
pp.  30-81,  and  in  some  handbooks. 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


'  version 


since  the  majority  were  bishops,  the  new  versi 
was  naturally  called  "The  Bishops'  Bible." 

After  about  four  years  of  effort  by  the  mem- 
bers of  the  committee  to  whom  the  work  had 
been  parceled  out,  the  first  edition  was  pub- 
lished in  1568  in  a  very  large  and  impressive 
folio.  The  title  was  simply  "The  holie  Bible 
conteyning  the  olde  Testament  and  the  newe." 
Although  there  was  no  dedication,  a  woodcut 
portrait  of  Queen  Elizabeth  appeared  on  the 
title  page.  The  Cranmer  preface  to  the  Great 
Bible  was  reproduced  and  another  long  one 
added  by  Parker.  Extensive  external  equipment 
included  tables  of  content,  a  chronology,  gene- 
alogies, maps,  pictures,  an  almanac,  numerous 
decorative  woodcuts,  two  engravings,  and  margi- 
nal annotations.  The  customary  black-letter 
type  was  employed,  but  Roman  type  served  the 
function  of  the  italics  which  had  been  used  in 
the  Geneva  Bible. 

Officially  the  revision  was  to  be  based  on  the 
Great  Bible  and  there  was  to  be  only  such  neces- 
sary variation  from  it  as  was  demanded  by  the 
Hebrew  or  Greek.  This  purpose  is  stated  in  a 
set  of  "Observacions  respected  of  the  Transla- 
tors/' which  also  enjoined  the  use  of  the  Latin 
of  Pagninus  and  Miinster  as  guides.  It  was  sug- 
gested too  that  unedifying  text  like  genealogies 
should  be  marked  for  possible  omission  in 
public  reading,  that  "all  such  wordes  as  sound- 
eth  in  the  Olde  Translacion  to  any  offence  of 
Lightnes  or  obscenitie  be  expressed  with  more 
convenient  termes  and  phrases,"  and  that  no 
"determination  in  places  of  controversie"  or 
"bitter  notis  vppon  any  text"  be  included.20  The 
real  result  was  a  revision  of  very  uneven  charac- 
ter, due  to  the  exercise  of  individual  freedom 
by  the  translators  without  adequate  editorial 
supervision  of  the  whole  work.  While  some  sec- 
tions are  therefore  close  to  the  Great  Bible, 
especially  in  the  Old  Testament  and  Apoc- 
rypha, others  depart  freely  from  it.  In  some  of 
these  the  inEuence  of  the  Geneva  Bible  is  ap- 
parent; even  many  of  its  marginalia  were  taken 
over.  John  Eadie  *x  found  that  out  of  fifty  notes 
in  I  Corinthians  ail  but  seven  were  from  the 
Geneva.  In  Galatians  twenty-two  notes,  all  but 
two  alternative  translations,  are  used.  The  notes 
in  general  are  explanatory  or  historical  with 
some  alternative  renderings  and  some  exhorta- 
tion. The  most  famous  is  doubtless  that  on  the 
gold  of  Ophir  in  Ps.  45:9;  "Ophir  is  thought  to 
be  the  Islande  in  the  west  coast,  of  late  founde 
by  Christopher  Columbo:  from  whence  at  this 
day  is  brought  most  fine  golde."  The  preface 
attributes  the  verse  division  to  the  Pagninus 
Bible.  But  the  version  was  in  general  unpro- 


«°  Pollard,  op.  dt.,  pp.  297-98, 

21  The  English    Bible    (London:    Macmillan   &   Co., 
1876). 


gressive,  and  ignored  many  improvements  in 
the  Geneva  text.  Nor  was  the  phraseology  as 
simple  and  direct  as  in  the  latter,  although 
Parker  had  been  asked  to  avoid  "ink  horn 
terms." 

In  spite  of  its  defects,  the  Bishops'  Bible  be- 
came the  second  "authorized"  English  version, 
for,  although  never  so  officially  designated  by  the 
queen,  it  was  endorsed  by  a  convocation  which 
in  1571  ordered  its  possession  and  use  by  every 
bishop  and  archbishop.  While  this  injunction 
does  not  seem  generally  to  have  been  obeyed, 
the  version  eventually  displaced  the  Great  Bible 
as  the  one  "appoynted  to  be  read  in  the 
Churches,"  and  from  1577  on  "as  set  forth  by 
authoritie."  As  has  been  already  intimated, 
however,  it  failed  to  oust  the  Psalter  of  the 
Great  Bible.  The  second  edition  of  1572  gave 
both  in  parallel  columns,  the  preface  rather 
timidly  inviting  the  reader  to  compare  the  two. 
But  in  all  subsequent  printings  except  one,  the 
Psalter  of  the  Great  Bible  alone  was  retainedl 

Although  the  Bishops*  Bible  was  thus  ecclesi- 
astically acceptable,  and  about  twenty  editions 
of  it  were  printed  over  the  period  from  1568  to 
1606,  it  failed  to  replace  the  Geneva  version 
in  popular  esteem  and  usage.  The  second  edi- 
tion served,  however,  as  the  official  basis  of  the 
revision  which  was  destined  to  do  so,  and  in 
this  way  a  number  of  readings  which  originated 
with  the  Bishops'  Bible  were  perpetuated. 

XII.  The  First  Roman  Catholic  Bible  in  English 

Meanwhile,  another  influential  achievement 
occurred  in  the  form  of  a  Roman  Catholic 
Bible  in  English.  Back  of  this  startling  venture 
were  Catholic  refugees  from  England  led  by 
William  Cardinal  Allen,  president  and  founder 
of  the  English  college  at  Douai,  France,  then 
temporarily  removed  to  Reims.  The  reasons  for 
such  a  translation  were  given  by  Allen  as  Protes- 
tant distortion  of  the  meaning  of  the  text  and 
the  fact  that  Catholic  preachers  were  at  a  dis- 
advantage in  quoting  the  Bible  in  English  with- 
out a  version  of  their  own.  Approval  of  lay  use 
of  the  Bible  was  definitely  not  intended.  In 
fact,  the  undertaking  was  not  at  first  officially 
sanctioned  by  the  church  at  all,  but  was  doubt- 
less a  part  of  the  Jesuit  program  of  recapturing 
England  for  Catholicism. 

The  translation  was  made  chiefly  by  Gregory 
Martin,  and  revised  by  Allen,  both  Oxford  men. 
Although  completed  by  1582,  only  the  New 
Testament  was  then  published  at  Reims,  the 
Old  Testament  being  delayed  until  1609-10  by 
lack  of  funds.  By  this  time  the  college  had 
moved  back  to  Douai,  and  the  version  is  there- 
fore known  as  the  Douay  or  Reims-Douay  Bible. 
A  complete  Bible  was  not  issued  until  1633-55 
at  Rouen.  Roman  type  and  marginal  versifica- 


92 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


tion  are  used,  and  the  text  is  paragraphed,  but 
not  by  verses  as  in  the  Bishops'  and  Geneva 
Bibles.  Annotations  by  Allen  in  the  form  of 
marginalia  and  notes  at  the  ends  of  chapters 
rival  the  Geneva  in  profuseness  and  exceed  it  in 
polemic  nature.  The  Protestant  "hereticks" 
and  the  Genevan  commentators  in  particular 
are  constantly,  though  not  lovingly,  in  mind. 
The  note  on  Matt.  6:24,  for  example,  gives  as 
the  first  interpretation  of  "two  masters":  "Two 
religions,  God  and  Baal,  Christ  and  Calvin, 
Masse  and  Communion,  the  Catholike  Church 
and  Heretical  Conventicles." 

The  title  page  of  the  version  proclaims  it  to 
be  translated  out  of  the  "authentical  Latin/' 
referring,  of  course,  to  the  Vulgate.  The  preface 
was  to  a  certain  extent  right  in  claiming  that 
this  preserved  a  less  corrupt  text  than  the  late 
Greek  which  lay  behind  the  English  translations 
to  this  time.  The  reading  in  Luke  2:14  ("and 
in  earth  peace  to  men  of  good  will")  and  the 
omission  of  the  doxology  in  Matt.  6:13  are  con- 
spicuous examples  (see  tables  on  pp.  102-3) . 
Here  and  elsewhere  there  is  coincidence  with 
the  Wycliffite  version,  since  it  too  was  made 
from  the  Vulgate.  As  the  title  page  suggests,  the 
Greek,  Hebrew,  and  "other  editions  in  divers 
languages"  were  also  consulted.  This  is  espe- 
cially true  in  the  New  Testament,  where  even 
the  influence  of  Geneva  readings  is  apparent. 
But  the  version  was  often  a  slavishly  literalistic 
rendering,  at  times  merely  a  transliteration,  of 
the  Latin.  To  be  understood  it  needed  itself  to 
be  translated  in  such  passages  as  "Give  us  today 
our  supersubstantial  bread"  (Matt.  6:11),  or, 
"But  he  exinanited  himself*  (Phil.  2:7) . 

The  version  was  not  without  improvements, 
especially  in  its  treatment  of  the  Greek  article, 
and  it  exerted  a  considerable  influence  upon  the 
King  James  revision,  in  which  many  of  its 
Latinisms  were  adopted.  Its  chief  significance 
lay  of  course  in  Roman  Catholic  circles,  where 
it  was  not  only  the  first  translation  into  Eng- 
lish, but  was  eventually  accorded  official  recogni- 
tion and  became  the  basis  of  all  subsequent 
revision. 

XIII.  The  King  James  Version  of  1611 

The  climax  and  culmination  of  these  early 
efforts  in  translation  and  revision  was  reached 
in  the  King  James  Version  of  1611. 

A  number  of  factors  combined  to  set  the  stage 
for  the  undertaking.  The  long  reign  of  Eliza- 
beth (15584603) ,  with  its  partial  settlement  of 
the  Protestant-Catholic  controversy  and  defeat 
of  the  Spanish  Armada  (1588),  ushered  in  a 
period  of  comparative  peace  and  quiet  that 
became  notable  for  intellectual  and  literary 
effort.  When  James  I  came  to  the  throne  in 
1603,  he  brought  with  him  pronounced  Protes- 


tant views  and  a  personal  interest  in  biblical 
study  and  translation.  The  Bishops'  Bible  had 
failed  to  displace  the  Geneva,  and  the  Puritans 
were  objecting,  among  other  things,  to  the 
"authorized"  versions.  It  was  to  hear  their  com- 
plaints that  James  called  the  Hampton  Court 
Conference  of  1604,  which  became  the  immedi- 
ate occasion  for  the  new  revision.  For  when 
the  Puritans  gained  little  in  other  matters,  the 
criticism  of  the  English  Bibles  was  broached, 
and  John  Reynolds,  Puritan  president  of 
Corpus  Christi  College,  Oxford,  moved  that 
there  might  be  a  new  translation  of  the  Bible. 
Although  there  was  no  immediate  action  on  this 
petition,  the  idea  appealed  to  the  king,  and  as 
the  preface  to  the  version  itself  puts  it,  "yet 
even  hereupon  did  his  Maiestie  beginne  to 
bethinke  himself  of  the  good  that  might  ensue 
by  a  new  translation,  and  presently  after  gave 
order  for  this  translation  which  is  now  pre- 
sented unto  thee."  Whatever  his  motives,  King 
James  supported  the  project  so  vigorously  that 
by  July,  1604,  a  translation  committee  of  fifty 
"learned  men"  and  a  list  of  rules  of  procedure 
had  been  provided.23 

Although  our  knowledge  of  the  earliest  pe- 
riod of  the  work  is  vague,  the  purposes  of  the 
revision  may  be  learned  from  the  rules  of  pro- 
cedure and  from  the  preface.  The  latter,  a  long 
and  learned  document  by  one  of  the  revisers, 
Miles  Smith,  is  unfortunately  omitted  from  the 
version  as  usually  printed.28  Its  presence  would 
clear  up  many  misunderstandings  about  the 
character  and  intent  of  the  revision.  The  reader 
would  learn  that  an  English  Bible  still  needed 
justification  and  that  strong  opposition  was  ex- 
pected to  any  revision  of  the  current  version: 

Many  mens  mouths  haue  bene  open  a  good 
while  (and  yet  are  not  stopped)  with  speeches 
about  the  Translation  so  long  in  hand  . . . :  and  aske 
what  may  be  the  reason,  what  the  necessitie  of  the 
employment. 

They  would  learn  that  the  new  version  was 
a  scholarly  revision  of  previous  work  with  a 
modest  hope  of  improvement  and  no  thought  of 
finality: 

Truly  (good  Christian  Reader)  wee  neuer  thought 
from  the  beginning,  that  we  should  neede  to  make 
a  new  Translation,  nor  yet  to  make  of  a  bad  one  a 
good  one,  .  .  .  but  to  make  a  good  one  better,  or 
out  of  many  good  ones,  one  principall  good  one,  not 

aa  About  fifty  of  the  group  are  known.  But  our  fullest 
list  has  forty-seven  names.  It  may  be  found  in  Pollard, 
op.  cit.t  pp.  49-53;  Butterworth,  op.  cit.,  pp.  208-9.  A 
full  statement  of  the  rules  of  procedure  may  be  found  in 
Pollard,  pp.  53-55,  and  in  various  handbooks 

*a  It  is  reproduced  in  Pollard,  op.  tit.,  pp  340-77.  E. 
J.  Goodspeed  has  published  it  with  a  facsimile  and  intro- 
duction: The  Translators  to  the  Reader  (Chicago:  Uni- 
versity of  Chicago  Press,  1935). 


93 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


justly  to  be  excepted  against;  that  hath  bene  our 
indeauour,  that  our  marke.  ...  So,  if  we  building 
vpon  their  foundation  that  went  before  vs,  and  be- 
ing holpen  by  their  labours,  doe  endeuour  to  make 
that  better  which  they  left  so  good;  no  man,  we 
are  sure,  hath  cause  to  mislike  vs;  they,  we  per- 
swade  our  selues,  if  they  were  aliue,  would  thanke  vs. 

The  rules  of  procedure  more  specifically  in- 
dicated that  the  Bishops'  Bible  was  to  be  fol- 
lowed and  "as  little  altered  as  the  Truth  of  the 
original  will  permit";  that  certain  other  transla- 
tions should  be  used  where  they  agreed  better 
with  the  text,  viz.,  "Tindoll's,  Matthew's,  Cover- 
dale's,  Whitchurch's  [the  Great  Bible,  so  named 
from  a  printer],  Geneva";  that  "the  old  Ecclesi- 
astical words  [were]  to  be  kept,"  and  that  no 
marginal  notes  were  to  be  used  except  for  neces- 
sary explanation  of  the  Hebrew  or  Greek,  Most 
of  the  remaining  fifteen  rules  dealt  with  method 
of  procedure,  providing  that  the  committee  be 
divided  into  six  companies  operating  two  each 
at  Oxford,  Cambridge,  and  Westminster  on 
allotted  sections  of  the  text,  that  they  should 
confer  on  the  results,  and  that  a  special  com- 
mittee should  make  a  final  review  of  the  work. 
It  is  questionable  whether  the  last  two  of  these 
provisions  were  adequately  carried  out.  Al- 
though its  beginning  "was  unaccountably  delayed 
for  about  four  years,  the  revision  was  completed 
within  three  years  and  ready  for  publication  by 
1611. 

The  historic  edition  which  issued  from  the 
press  of  Robert  Barker  was  a  large  folio  volume 
very  similar  to  the  Bishops'  Bible  in  appearance. 
The  type  and  the  chapter  and  verse  division 
were  essentially  the  same.  Running  titles  and 
prefatory  chapter  summaries  were  included, 
many  reflecting  the  influence  of  the  Geneva 
Bible.  There  were  several  tables  and  charts. 
The  Apocrypha  were  given  without  any  dis- 
tinguishing comments.  A  flattering  dedication 
to  King  James  was  naturally  a  feature,  and  an 
elaborate  engraved  title  page  described  the 
version  as  "The  Holy  Bible,  Conteyning  the 
Old  Testament  and  the  New:  Newly  Translated 
out  of  the  Originall  tongues;  &  with  the  former 
Translations  diligently  compared  and  revised, 
by  his  Maiesties  speciall  Commandement.  Ap- 
pointed to  be  read  in  Churches." 

A  second  edition  partly  printed  in  the  same 
year  and  published  in  1613  has  caused  some 
confusion  as  to  priority  because  of  the  use  of 
leaves  of  the  earlier  edition  in  copies  of  the 
later.  The  editions  differed  in  over  four  hun- 
dred readings  and  in  other  features.  (They  are 
sometimes  called  the  "He  Bible"  and  "She 
Bible"  from  their  respective  renderings  of  the 
reference  in  Ruth  3:15.)  Although  the  King 
James  Version  has  come  to  be  known  as  the 


authorized  version,  no  official  action  of  authori- 
zation is  known  to  exist.  Either  the  record  of 
such  an  act  was  destroyed  by  fire  or,  as  with  the 
Bishops'  Bible,  the  official  sponsorship  was  con- 
sidered sufficient  recognition.  The  King  James 
Bible  therefore  became  the  third  "authorized" 
English  Bible. 

Although  officially  a  revision  of  the  Bishops' 
Bible,  especially  of  the  second  edition  of  1572, 
the  King  James  Version  derived  comparatively 
little  from  that  except  as  it  contained  the  cumu- 
lative result  of  previous  work.  The  other  trans- 
lations mentioned  in  the  rules,  especially  the 
Tyndale  and  Geneva  versions,  contributed  much 
more,  and  among  unnamed  sources  the  con- 
tributions of  the  Reims  New  Testament, 
Luther's  German  Bible,  and  various  Latin  trans- 
lations such  as  Pagninus,  Miimter,  Tremellius- 
Junius,  and  Beza  are  very  apparent.  In  gen- 
eral, however,  the  total  result  is  still  basically 
the  inherited  Tyndale-Coverdale  text.  The  Ge- 
neva was  of  next  greatest  influence.  In  the 
Lord's  Prayer  the  two  are  identical  except  for 
two  minor  words.2*  The  revisers,  of  course, 
added  their  own  improvements,  centering  par- 
ticularly in  the  choice  of  words,  enrichment  of 
vocabulary,  and  the  enhancement  of  the  rhyth- 
mic quality  of  the  text.  While  this  contribution 
varied  greatly  from  place  to  place,  the  result 
was  a  version  generally  superior  to  its  predeces- 
sors in  accuracy  of  translation  and  refinement 
of  literary  style. 

But  the  revision  had  also  its  weaknesses,  sev- 
eral of  them  a  part  of  its  inheritance.  The  un- 
derlying text  was  still  far  from  satisfactory. 
There  was  no  standard  edition  of  the  Hebrew 
Masoretic  text  of  the  Old  Testament.  In  the 
New  Testament  the  late  and  corrupt  text  of 
Erasmus  as  popularized  and  slightly  modified 
by  Stephanus  and  Beza  was  necessarily  used, 
since  nothing  better  was  available.  The  variety 
introduced  into  the  rendering  of  the  same  words 
was  often  unnecessary  and  misleading,  especially 
when  extended  to  proper  names  and  to  iden- 
tical passages  in  the  Synoptic  Gospels  and  else- 
where, where  literary  relationships  were  thus 
obscured.25  Conversely,  certain  real  distinctions 
were  not  observed,  a  famous  example  being  the 
inherited  translation  in  John  10:16  of  two 
different  Greek  words  as  "fold/'  where  the  sec- 
ond should  have  been  "flock,"  apparently,  as  in 

2*  A  good  treatment  of  the  varied  literary  relationship 
will  be  found  in  Butterworth,  op.  dt.  In  the  latter  part 
of  the  Old  Testament  he  found  that  "often  as  much  as 
half  the  text  is  taken  word  for  word  from  the  Geneva 
Bible"  (p  165). 

26  Cf.,  e.g,  Isa.  35:10  and  51:11;  Matt.  26:41  and 
Mark  14:38;  etc.  The  bewildering  variety  in  proper 
names  still  remains,  e.g ,  Elijah  and  Ehas;  Jeremiah, 
Jeremias,  and  Jeremy;  Judas,  Judah,  and  Jude;  Luke 
and  Lucas;  etc. 


94 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


the  Vulgate,  in  the  interests  of  one  church.  No 
systematic  representation  of  measurements  is 
used,  several  of  differing  quantity  being  ren- 
dered simply  as  "measure."  Coinage  is  generally 
resolved  into  British  equivalents,  but  again, 
indefinite  terms  such  as  "pieces  of  silver"  (Luke 
15:8)  or  "piece  of  money"  (Matt.  17:27)  are 
often  used  where  the  original  is  definite. 
"Lamp"  and  "lampstand" — to  cite  another  ex- 
ample of  modernization — had  long  been  trans- 
lated as  "candle"  and  "candlestick."  Failure  to 
give  proper  recognition  to  certain  Greek  usages 
is  attributable  to  the  still  unsatisfactory  knowl- 
edge of  the  original  languages.  Other  defects 
included  obscurities,  archaisms,  solecisms  in  the 
English,  failure  to  recognize  and  represent  all 
Hebrew  poetical  forms,  and,  especially  in  the 
earlier  editions,  many  printing  errors.  A  famous 
misprint  still  remaining  in  the  version  is  "at" 
for  "out"  in  "strain  at  a  gnat"  (Matt.  23:24) . 
Obscure  or  archaic  expressions  abound,  e.g., 
"prevent"  for  "go  before";  "to  wit"  for  "to 
know";  "damnation"  for  "judgment";  "clean- 
ness of  teeth"  for  "famine"  (a  Hebraism) ;  "car- 
riage" for  "baggage";  etc.  Lists  of  dubious  read- 
ings of  all  sorts  may  be  found  in  Philip  Schaff, 
A  Companion  to  the  Greek  Testament  and  the 
English  Version  (New  York:  Harper  &  Bros., 
1883),  and  elsewhere. 

But  no  one  reads  the  King  James  Version  in 
its  original  form.  Many  archaisms,  misspellings 
and  other  errors  were  corrected  in  subsequent 
editions.26  Criticism  of  the  version,  as  antici- 
pated, was  severe,  and  led  to  several  revisions. 
That  of  1629  first  omitted  the  Apocrypha.  (The 
fortunes  of  the  Apocrypha  would  require  too 
much  space  to  relate  here.  An  ordinance  of 
1615  threatened  a  year's  imprisonment  to 
printers  who  omitted  them.  But  after  sporadic 
omission  for  two  centuries,  they  were  generally 
dropped  as  of  supposedly  inferior  value  and  no 
part  of  the  original — i.e.,  Hebrew — canon.) 
The  most  extensive  revisions  were  made  by 
Thomas  Paris  at  Cambridge  in  1762  and  by 
Benjamin  Blayney  at  Oxford  in  1769.  The  latter 
became  the  standard  form,  and  after  this  few 
changes  were  made.  The  original  edition,  in 
spite  of  the  stricture  on  marginalia,  had  in- 
cluded about  9,000  cross  references  and  some 
8,000  other  notations,  mostly  the  literal  Hebrew 
and  Greek,  but  some  explanatory,  as  the  preface 
indicated  and  sought  to  justify.  The  revisions 
added  to  this  number  constantly,  so  that  by  the 

26  Later  editions  often  added  their  own  errors,  however, 
and  several  have  been  nicknamed  after  some  particular 
slip.  A  list  of  such  "Queer  and  Interesting  Bibles"  may 
be  seen  in  Laura  H.  Wild,  The  Romance  of  the  English 
Bible  (New  York:  Doubleday,  Doran  &  Co.,  1929),  Ap- 
pendix II.  All  of  the  changes  from  the  1611  edition  are 
noted  in  The  Cambridge  Paragraph  Bible  (Cambridge: 
Cambridge  University  Press,  1873). 


95 


time  of  the  Blayney  edition  the  notes,  increased 
especially  by  an  indiscriminate  multiplication  of 
cross  references,  totaled  about  65,000.  Arch- 
bishop Ussher's  chronology  was  added  in  Lloyd's 
1701  edition.  The  various  editions,  of  which 
about  50  were  published  by  1640,  differed  in 
size  and  format,  and  as  early  as  1612  both  a 
folio  and  quarto  were  issued  in  Roman  type. 

With  the  gradual  improvement  of  the  version 
the  clamor  against  it  died  down  to  a  great  ex- 
tent. Officially  it  replaced  the  Bishops'  Bible, 
and  after  fifty  years  or  so  the  Geneva  Bible,  in 
popular  use.  Political  strife  served  also  to  dis- 
tract attention  from  biblical  revision  for  some 
time.  The  result  was  that  the  King  James  Bible 
remained  for  two  and  a  half  centuries  the  Bible 
of  English-speaking  Protestantism  and  exerted  a 
wide  and  lasting  influence  not  only  in  religion 
but  also  in  literature  and  every  other  area  of 
contemporary  culture.27 

The  version  also  became  widely  recognized 
for  its  own  intrinsic  literary  value,  and  many 
came  to  regard  it  as  the  greatest  monument  of 
English  prose.  A  good  part  of  its  appeal  is  at- 
tributable to  the  literary  genius  exemplified  in 
the  original  writings,  and  to  the  reproduction 
of  much  of  the  flavor  of  the  vivid  and  concrete 
word-picture  character  of  Semitic  expression, 
with  its  striking  imagery,  metaphors,  personifica- 
tions, proverbs,  parables,  etc.  These  have  often 
become  a  part  of  our  speech,  as  in  terminology 
like  "lick  the  dust,"  "skin  of  his  teeth,"  "salt  of 
the  earth."  And  long  familiarity  fails  to  dull 
the  beauty  of  such  natural  imagery  as  is  found 
in  Ps.  23,  or  the  human  appeal  of  a  parable  like 
that  of  the  prodigal  son.28 

XIV.  The  Revised  Version 

But  great  progress  was  made  after  1611,  espe- 
cially in  the  nineteenth  century,  both  in  the  dis- 
covery and  publication  of  better  Hebrew  and 
Greek  texts  and  in  fields  such  as  archaeology, 
linguistics,  comparative  religion,  etc.,  with  the 
result  that  new  light  was  thrown  upon  the 
understanding  of  the  biblical  text  and  its  proper 
translation.  Discovery  or  first  real  use  of  such 
early  manuscripts  as  Vaticanus,  Alexandrinus, 
Beza,  and  Sinaiticus  had  marked  influence.  The 

27  For  its  pervasive  influence  in  literature  see  the  dis- 
cussion and  bibliographies  in  Margaret  B.  Crook,  ed., 
The  Bible  and  Its  Literary  Associations  (New  York: 
Abingdon  Press,  1937);  A.  S.  Cook,  Biblical  Quotations 
in  Old  English  Prose  Writers  (New  York:  The  Macmillan 
Co.,  1898);  The  Bible  and  English  Prose  Style  (Boston: 
D.  C.  Heath  &  Co.,  1892). 

*8  Many  good  treatments  of  this  aspect  of  the  subject 
exist;  e.g,  Josiah  H.  Penniman,  A  Book  About  the 
English  Bible  (New  York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1919); 
C.  A.  Dinsmore,  The  English  Bible  as  Literature  (Boston: 
Houghton  Mifflin  Co.,  1931);  W.  O.  Sypnerd,  The  Litera 
ture  of  the  English  Bible  (New  York:  Oxford  University 
Press,  1938), 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


steady  accumulation  oi  thousands  o£  variant 
readings  in  the  New  Testament,  many  of  which 
were  obviously  older  and  better,  led  eventually 
to  the  first  total  disregard  of  the  "received"  text 
by  Karl  Lachmann  in  1831.  Great  advance  was 
made  by  the  work  of  Konstantin  von  Tischen- 
dorf,  Samuel  Tregelles,  and  others,  and  after 
nearly  thirty  years  of  labor,  Westcott  and  Hort 
in  1881  published  a  text  of  the  fourth  century 
or  earlier.  The  Old  Testament  text  had  been 
vocalized  and  standardized  by  the  seventh  or 
eighth  century  AD.  in  what  was  not  a  truly 
critical  form  A  tenth-century  copy  of  it  by  Ben 
Asher  became  the  prevalent  text  and  mainly 
underlies  the  English  and  other  translation  to 
this  time  as  well  as  to  the  present.  But  variation 
in  text  was  publicized  in  the  earlier  period 
through  the  polyglots,  which  gave  the  Latin, 
Greek,  Syriac,  Aramaic,  and  other  versions,  and 
through  such  editions  as  those  of  Benjamin 
Kennicott  (Oxford,  1776-1780)  and  J.  B.  de 
Rossi  (Parma,  1784-88)  ,29  Advance  in  the  other 
areas  mentioned  frequently  threw  doubt  upon 
the  accuracy  of  the  translation.  The  lapse  of 
time  had  rendered  many  moie  woids  and  ex- 
pressions obsolete  or  generally  unintelligible. 
Bishop  Robert  Lowth's  lectures  on  Hebrew 
poetry  in  the  middle  eighteenth  century  first 
revealed  the  true  literary  character  of  much  of 
the  biblical  text.  The  decipherment  of  hiero- 
glyphic and  cuneiform  writing  in  the  first  half 
of  the  nineteenth  century  had  made  possible  for 
the  first  time  the  reading  of  the  ancient  records 
of  Medes,  Persians,  Babylonians,  Assyrians,  and 
Egyptians,  with  consequent  illumination  of  He- 
brew history  and  literature. 

The  effect  of  these  influences  appeared  in 
renewed  agitation  for  a  revision  of  the  King 
James  Version  and  in  numerous  attempts  on 
the  part  of  private  individuals  and  groups  to 
anticipate  such  an  undertaking  by  issuing  new 
translations  and  revisions  of  their  own.  From 
about  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century 
these  became  increasingly  numerous,  and  every 
sort  of  experiment  was  tried  with  style  and 
format.  One  scholar  estimates  that  nearly  100 
such  editions,  mostly  of  the  New  Testament, 
were  produced  in  the  259  years  between  1611 
and  the  beginning  of  work  on  the  Revised 
Version,  over  half  of  them  in  the  nineteenth 
century.50  These  ventures  served  to  call  atten- 
tion to  such  defects  in  the  current  Bible  as  have 
been  already  briefly  indicated,  and  some  of 
them  were  of  real  merit  as  illustrative  of  the 
possibilities  involved  in  a  new  revision.  Among 
the  most  interesting  and  valuable  are  the  fol- 

20  See  p.  56. 

80  E.  J.  Goodspeed,  The  Making  of  the  English  New 
Testament  (Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press,  1925} 
p.  78.  " 


96 


lowing  (New  Testament  and  British,  unless 
otherwise  indicated) :  W.  Mace  (1729) ,  William 
Whiston  (1745),  John  Wesley  (1755),  Philip 
Doddridge  (1765),  Edward  Harwood  (1768), 
William  Newcome  (1796),  Anthony  Purver 
(1764) ,  Gilbert  Wakefield  (1789-91) ,  Nathaniel 
Scarlett  (1798),  Charles  Thomson  (a  transla- 
tion of  the  Greek  Bible,  Philadelphia,  1808), 
Noah  Webster  (New  Haven,  1833) ,  Granville 
Penn  (1836-37),  Asahel  Kendrick  (1842), 
Alford,  Moberly,  Humphrey,  Ellicott  and  Bar- 
row (Gospel  of  John  and  Pauline  Epistles, 
1857-61) ,  Thomas  J,  Conant  (New  Testament 
and  parts  of  the  Old  Testament,  editions  of  the 
American  Bible  Union,  1860-71),  G.  R.  Noyes 
(Boston,  1869),  Henry  Alford  (1870),  Julia 
Smith  (Bible,  Hartford,  1876).  The  Bible  of 
Thomson,  who  was  secretary  of  the  Continental 
Congress,  was  the  first  complete  English  trans- 
lation by  an  American. 

Scholars  also  published  lists  of  the  deficiencies 
in  the  Authorized  Version  and  sought  to  esti- 
mate the  probable  nature  and  amount  of 
revision  that  would  be  necessary.  While  defend- 
ers of  the  current  version  were  not  lacking,  and 
efforts  to  find  official  support  for  revision  failed 
in  1856,  the  tide  of  opinion  could  not  be  stayed 
much  longer. 

The  first  official  step  was  taken  on  February 
10,  1870,  when  at  a  meeting  of  the  convocation 
ot  Canterbury,  Bishop  Samuel  Wilberforce  of 
Winchester  proposed  the  appointment  of  a 
committee  to  report  on  the  desirability  of  a 
revision  of  the  New  Testament.  This,  as 
amended  to  include  the  Old  Testament,  was 
approved,  and  the  committee  named  soon 
brought  in  a  favorable  report  in  the  form  of 
five  resolutions  which  suggested  the  general 
purpose  and  procedure  of  the  work.  It  is  clear 
that  the  revision  was  considered  to  be  mainly 
textual  (including  the  margin) ,  that  only  neces- 
sary changes  were  to  be  adopted,  and  that  the 
style  of  the  King  James  Version  was  to  be  re- 
tained. Another  committee  was  then  authorized 
to  proceed  with  more  detailed  plans  for  the 
project  and  its  personnel.  Nucleus  sections  for 
Old  and  New  Testament  were  quickly  formed, 
a  list  of  rules  of  procedure  for  guidance  was 
drawn  up,  and  by  June  22,  1870,  the  work  on 
the  New  Testament  had  got  under  way  with  an 
initial  meeting  at  Westminster  Abbey. 

The  men  who  undertook  the  task  of  revision 
constituted  an  able  and  distinguished  group,81 

»  For  a  list  o£  the  members  see  H.  Wheeler  Robinson, 
The  Bible  in  Its  Ancient  and  English  Versions  (Oxford: 
Clarendon  Press,  1940),  pp.  243-45.  The  twenty-four  to 
twenty-eight  members  who  were  active  in  the  ensuing  ten 
years  included  for  the  Old  Testament  group  T.  K. 
Cheyne,  A.  B.  Davidson,  S.  R.  Driver,  F.  Field,  C.  D. 
Ginsburg,  J.  McGill,  A.  H.  Sayce,  R.  Payne  Smith,  W. 
Wright;  and  for  the  New  Testament,  H.  Alford,  J. 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


and  included  representatives  of  various  denom- 
inations other  than  the  Anglican,  Co-operation 
with  American  "divines"  was  also  invited  from 
the  beginning,  and  an  American  group  of 
about  nineteen  active  members  was  formed  un- 
der the  leadership  of  Philip  Schaff,  arrange- 
ments being  made  for  collaboration  with  the 
British.82  The  rules  of  procedure  adopted  added 
certain  specifications  to  the  original  resolutions. 
The  text  was  to  be  gone  over  twice,  decisions  in 
doubtful  places  depending  upon  a  majority  in 
the  preliminary  revision  and  by  a  two-thirds 
vote  in  the  second.  Rejected  readings  of  the 
King  James  Version  were  to  be  placed  in  the 
margin;  the  headings  of  chapters  and  pages, 
paragraphing,  italics,  and  punctuation  were  to 
be  revised;  and  reference  was  to  be  made  when 
desirable  "to  Divines,  Scholars  and  Literary 
Men,  whether  at  home  or  abroad,  for  their 
opinions." 

The  work  continued  for  ten  and  a  half  years 
on  the  New  Testament  and  about  fourteen  on 
the  Old.  A  much  needed  revision  of  the  Apoc- 
rypha was  also  made.  The  expenses  were  borne 
by  the  university  presses  of  Cambridge  and  Ox- 
ford, the  publishers  and  copyright  owners;  but 
the  revisers  themselves  received  no  remunera- 
tion. 

The  New  Testament  was  published  on  May 
17,  1881,  and  met  with  an  enthusiastic  initial 
reception.  People  stood  in  line  for  copies.  A 
million  copies  had  been  ordered  in  advance, 
and  some  three  million  were  sold  in  England 
and  the  United  States  within  the  first  year.  The 
book  was  first  put  on  sale  in  the  United  States 
on  May  20,  and  two  days  later  two  Chicago 
newspapers  printed  the  complete  text  for  their 
readers.  The  Old  Testament  appeared,  with 
less  demonstration,  as  a  part  of  the  whole  Bible 
on  May  19,  1885.  The  Apocrypha  were  pub- 
lished in  1895. 

Purchasers  found  themselves  in  possession  of 
a  text  in  which  the  number  of  changes  far  ex- 
ceeded all  previous  estimates.  Of  some  180,000 
words  in  the  New  Testament,  for  example, 
alterations  amounted  to  an  estimated  30,000, 
or  an  average  of  four  and  a  half  per  verse. 
While  the  revisers  did  attempt  to  retain  the 
style  and  flavor  of  the  King  James  Version, 
they  did  not  hesitate  to  remove  obscurities, 
archaisms,  and  inconsistencies  in  the  text.  Wide 
variation  was  due  to  the  increased  accuracy  of 

Angus,  J.  Eadie,  C.  J.  Ellicott  (chairman),  F.  J.  A.  Hort, 
B.  H.  Kennedy,  J.  B.  Lightfoot,  W.  Milligan,  W.  F. 
Moulton,  R.  Scott,  R.  C.  Trench,  B.  F.  Westcott. 

82  The  American  committee  included  T.  J.  Conant, 
W.  H.  Green,  C.  M.  Mead,  Josiah  Strong,  Ezra  Abbott, 
Timothy  Dwight,  J.  Hadley,  A.  C.  Kendrick,  M.  B. 
Riddle,  J.  H.  Thayer,  and  T.  D.  Woolsey.  M.  B.  Riddle 
published  The  Story  of  the  Revised  American  Standard 
Version  (Philadelphia:  Sunday  School  Times  Co.,  1908). 


the  underlying  text  which  they  used,  especially 
in  the  New  Testament.  Hort  persuasively  urged 
upon  the  committee  the  text  upon  which  he 
and  Westcott  had  labored  so  many  years,  and 
it  exerted  a  great  influence,  though  far  from 
being  consistently  followed.  Many  of  its  rejected 
readings,  however,  were  placed  in  the  margin. 

The  English  was  given  in  two  columns,  im- 
proved by  division  into  sense  paragraphs  and 
with  verse  numbers  in  the  margin.  Poetry  was 
better  represented;  italics  were  reduced  in  num- 
ber and  systematized.  Chapter  summaries  and 
headings  were  omitted  entirely.  At  first  the 
marginal  cross  references  were  also  dropped,  but 
popular  demand  led  to  their  restoration  in  1898 
and  in  subsequent  editions.  The  usual  marginal 
notes  appeared,  the  textual  variants  and  alterna- 
tive renderings  occupying  a  much  larger  space. 
The  enormous  amount  of  new  evidence  which 
could  be  brought  to  bear  upon  the  problems  of 
translation  made  the  marginalia  of  value  to  the 
student  interested  in  accuracy  and  comprehen- 
sion. The  better  text  was  often  represented  in 
the  margin.  A  list  of  about  three  hundred  read- 
ings preferred  by  the  American  Committee,  but 
not  adopted  by  the  English  revisers,  was  given 
in  an  appendix. 

It  was  not  long,  however,  before  the  number 
and  character  of  the  changes  in  the  revision 
provoked  a  strong  reaction.  The  work  had  al- 
ready been  under  attack  before  publication,  but 
now  criticism  became  more  specific  as  well  as 
voluble.  Members  of  the  revision  committee 
itself  joined  in  denouncing  the  results,  as  the 
merits  and  demerits  of  the  version  were  argued. 
Charges  of  unnecessary  departure  from  the 
familiar  phraseology,  undue  literalism,  elabo- 
rate overcorrection,  destruction  of  beauty  and 
rhythm,  impoverishment  of  the  English  lan- 
guage, and  the  like,  flew  thick  and  fast.  Prime 
Minister  Gladstone  spoke  against  its  authoriza- 
tion, and  it  was  coolly  received  by  its  sponsor, 
the  convocation  of  Canterbury.  Champions  of 
the  enterprise  were  numerous,  however,  and  not 
a  few  felt  that  the  revision  did  not  depart 
sufficiently  from  the  traditional  text  either  in 
the  choice  of  readings  or  in  the  modernization 
of  the  English. 

It  is  quite  true  that  the  revisers  went  beyond 
their  expressed  purposes.  Charges  of  overliteral- 
ism  and  overconsistency  could  often  be  substan- 
tiated. The  total  effect  was  frequently  to  spoil 
a  certain  natural  vigor  and  beauty  without  re- 
writing the  translation  in  a  really  creative 
fashion.  This  resulted  in  an  artificial  product 
for  the  day  in  which  it  was  made.  Yet  the  vast 
number  of  improvements  in  accuracy,  clarity, 
and  consistency  are  undeniable,  and  much  op- 
position to  the  revision  must  be  attributed  to 
traditional  associations.  Certain  alterations  in 


97 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


the  text,  such  as  the  omission  of  the  doxology 
at  the  end  of  the  Lord's  Prayer  (Matt  6:13), 
were  very  disconcerting  to  those  unacquainted 
with  the  facts  about  textual  study.  Examples  of 
greater  accuracy  and  clarity  are  legion.  Cf.,  e.g., 
II  Cor.  8:1  KJV  "We  do  you  to  wit." 

RV  "We  make  known  to  you." 
Luke  3:23    KJV  "And  Jesus  himself  began  to 

be  about  thirty  years  of  age." 
RV  "And  Jesus  himself,  when  he 

began   to    teach,    was   about 

thirty  years  old." 
Isa.  9:1         KJV  ".  .  .  and  afterward  did  more 

grievously  afflict  her." 
RV  ".  .  .  in  the  latter  time  hath 

he  made  it  glorious." 

In  spite  of  opposition  the  Revised  Version 
eventually  became  widely  used,  especially  in 
church  schools  and  for  purposes  of  study,  and 
particularly  in  the  United  States.  It  officially 
displaced  the  King  James  Version  at  Canterbury 
and  Westminster.  After  a  stipulated  wait  of 
fourteen  years,  an  American  edition  was  pub- 
lished on  August  26,  1901,  incorporating  the 
readings  of  the  American  appendix  in  the  text 
and  making  an  equal  number  of  other  changes. 
In  general,  these  show  more  progress  away  from 
traditional  and  archaic  forms  of  expression,  and 
they  substitute  American  for  British  idiom 
where  the  two  differ.  The  American  committee 
also  restored  (revised)  running  headlines,  in- 
cluded a  new  set  of  sensible  marginal  references, 
and  further  improved  the  use  of  italics  and 
punctuation.38 

The  Revised  Version,  however,  failed  to  dis- 
place the  King  James  Version  to  a  degree  com- 
parable to  that  in  which  the  latter  had  over- 
come rival  versions.  This  was  due  to  the  defects 
which  have  been  mentioned,  to  the  disadvan- 
tage of  copyright  restrictions  which  made  the 
revision  more  expensive  to  buy,  and  to  the 
fact  that  it  faced  the  formidable  opposition  of 
a  version  which  had  been  hallowed  by  religious 
usage  and  literary  associations  for  well  over 
two  centuries.  To  overcome  the  last  circum- 
stance alone  only  a  phenomenal  production 
could  have  sufficed.  The  Revised  Version  was 
not  such:  it  went  too  far  to  be  acceptable  as  a 
mere  revision  of  the  King  James  Version;  it  did 
not  go  far  enough  to  be  accepted  on  its  own 
merits  as  a  new  and  modern  translation. 

XV.  The  Modern  Speech  Versions 

The  recognition  of  the  defects  in  the  Revised 
Version  and  the  continuing  increase  of  knowl- 

33  The  title  page  read  identically  with  the  English 
except  for  the  date,  "Revised  A.D.  1881-1885,"  and  the 
following  lines-  "Newly  Edited  by  the  American  Revision 
Committee,  A.D  1901,  Standard  Edition.  New  York: 
Thomas  Nelson  &  Sons."  The  text  was  copyrighted  by  the 
publishers. 


98 


edge  in  the  areas  pertaining  to  translation  led 
to  renewed  efforts  to  provide  more  satisfactory, 
and  in  particular,  more  modern,  results.  Several 
new  manuscript  discoveries,  such  as  the  Sinaitic 
Syriac,  together  with  progress  in  textual  study 
served  further  to  discredit  the  traditional  Greek 
text.  In  Egypt  especially,  at  the  turn  of  the  cen- 
tury and  in  subsequent  years,  great  numbers  of 
papyrus  documents  were  unearthed,  which  re- 
flected every  aspect  of  the  life  of  the  people  of 
the  ancient  world  in  which  much  of  the  Bible 
and  particularly  the  New  Testament  was  writ- 
ten. These  discoveries  were  a  special  stimulus 
to  translation  activity,  since  the  documents  re- 
vealed that  the  New  Testament  was  written  in 
general  in  the  ordinary,  everyday  Greek  of  the 
time  and  indicated  the  true  or  exact  meaning 
of  many  of  its  words  and  idioms  for  the  first 
time.  The  new  knowledge  was  soon  incorpo- 
rated in  grammatical  and  lexical  works,  and 
modern  speech  translations  began  to  appear, 
which  not  only  sought  to  exploit  the  new  in- 
formation on  specific  points,  but  tried  also  to 
exemplify  in  their  English  the  fact  that  the  New 
Testament  books  were  originally  written  to  be 
understood  by  ordinary  folk  and  ought  to  be 
kept  in  the  language  of  the  people.  This  convic- 
tion was  fortunately  extended  to  cover  the  Old 
Testament  too,  where  archaeological  discoveries 
and  study  had  also  opened  up  new  vistas  for 
the  understanding  of  the  Hebrew  text. 

Only  a  few  of  the  outstanding  versions  pro- 
duced in  this  modern  period  can  be  mentioned. 
Ferrar  Fenton  published  a  Bible  (1883-1900)  in 
the  modern  English  of  Great  Britain  which  en- 
joyed considerable  popularity.  A  pioneering 
effort  was  the  Four  Gospels  of  F.  A,  Spencer, 
published  in  1898.  The  rest  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment was  translated  in  1937.  F.  S.  Ballentine 
first  sought  to  employ  American  idiom  in  an 
1898  Bible,  which  in  the  preface  he  described 
as  "a  plainer  Bible  for  plain  people  in  plain 
American."  From  the  same  viewpoint,  and  con- 
sistently good,  was  the  Twentieth  Century  New 
Testament  published  anonymously  by  a  group 
of  scholars  in  a  tentative  form  in  1898-1901  and 
in  a  definitive  edition  in  1904.  British  idiom  is 
represented  in  a  New  Testament  translation 
made  by  R.  F.  Weymouth,  a  competent  Greek 
scholar,  from  his  own  Resultant  Greek  Testa- 
ment, and  issued  posthumously  in  1903. 
Couched  in  modern,  dignified  but  often  diffuse 
English,  and  furnished  with  an  extensive  appa- 
ratus of  notes,  it  became  especially  popular  in 
England,  and  a  fourth  edition  revised  by  three 
English  scholars  was  published  in  1924.  One  of 
the  most  popular  of  the  new  versions  has  been 
that  of  James  Moffatt,  who  translated  the  entire 
Bible  into  modern  speech  of  free  style.  The 
New  Testament  (1913) ,  based  on  von  Soden's 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


text,  was  of  greater  value  and  vogue  than  the 
Old.  The  latter  was  issued  in  1924,  and  a  com- 
plete Bible  in  1926.  William  G.  Ballantine  is- 
sued a  translation  in  1923  (rev.  ed.,  1934)  based 
on  the  Nestle  text  and  known  as  the  Riverside 
New  Testament.  It  is  closer  to  the  traditional 
English  than  most  modern  versions  but  has  a 
number  of  independent  readings  of  merit.  A 
two-volume  edition  of  the  New  Testament  ably 
and  rather  conservatively  translated  by  Helen 
Barrett  Montgomery  was  issued  to  commemo- 
rate the  one-hundredth  anniversary  of  the 
American  Baptist  Publication  Society  in  1923- 
24,  and  is  known  as  the  Centenary  New  Testa- 
ment. Rivaling  the  Moffatt  New  Testament  in 
value  and  popularity  is  the  edition  of  Edgar  J. 
Goodspeed.  His  is  again  a  fairly  free  rendering 
and  represents,  as  its  subtitle  indicates,  An 
American  Translation.  The  New  Testament  was 
published  in  1923,  a  translation  of  the  text  of 
Westcott  and  Hort;  and  a  revision  of  it  by 
Goodspeed  is  in  process.  The  Old  Testament 
was  likewise,  but  more  conservatively,  rendered 
into  American  idiom  by  a  group  of  scholars 
under  the  leadership  and  editorship  of  J.  M.  P. 
Smith  and  published  in  1927.84  The  complete 
Bible  appeared  in  1931,  and  a  new  translation 
of  the  Apocrypha  prepared  by  Goodspeed  was 
incorporated  into  an  edition  issued  in  1939. 
Independent  readings  of  merit  often  occur  in 
other  modern  speech  versions,  such  as  Verkyl's 
New  Testament  (1945)  and  the  Jehovah's  Wit- 
nesses' edition  of  the  New  Testament  (1950) . 

Besides  using  modern  diction,  these  various 
editions  generally  sought  to  incorporate  im- 
provements in  format  and  mechanics.  The  text 
is  often  logically  paragraphed,  chapter  and  verse 
numbers  are  returned  to  the  margin,  poetry  is 
distinguished  from  prose,  Old  Testament  quota- 
tions in  the  New  Testament  are  differentiated, 
cross  references  are  much  reduced  in  quantity 
and  relegated  to  the  bottom  of  the  page,  direct 
speech  is  sometimes  paragraphed.  Marginal 
notes  are  usually  few,  if  any.  A  free,  idiomatic 
rendering  is  not  concerned  about  literal  mean- 
ings. Most  modern  speech  versions  could  be 
improved,  however,  by  a  few  marginal  annota- 
tions on  important  textual  variants  and  prob- 
lem passages. 

Translation  and  revision  have  continued  for  a 
variety  of  reasons.  Some  of  it  reflects  the  pro- 
longation of  efforts  to  improve  the  King  James 
Version.  Thus  the  American  Bible  Union  work 
was  carried  forward  until  the  whole  Bible  had 
been  completed,  a  third  revision  of  the  1864 
New  Testament  being  published  in  1891  by 
Hovey,  Broadus,  and  Weston,  and  a  revised 
Bible  being  issued  in  1912.  Charles  F.  Kent 

**  The  other  collaborators  were  Leroy  Waterman, 
Theophile  J,  Meek,  and  Alexander  R.  Gordon. 


produced  a  meritorious  translation  of  parts  of 
the  New  Testament  for  his  Shorter  New  Testa- 
mentj  published  in  1919;  and  in  the  same  year 
the  "Concordant  Version"  of  all  except  the 
Gospels  was  issued,  based  upon  a  text  recon- 
structed from  the  three  manuscripts,  Vaticanus, 
Sinaiticus,  and  Alexandrinus.  The  Gospels  ap- 
peared in  1924.  Several  translations  of  individ- 
ual manuscripts  have  also  been  published.  We 
cannot    deal   with    these    or   with   the    many 
extant  translations  of  parts  of  the   Bible.   In 
1933,  George  Lamsa  and  C.  C.  Torrey  each 
issued  versions  of  the  four  Gospels,  supposedly 
reflecting  new  insights  into  the  meaning  of  the 
text  arising  out  of  a  fuller  knowledge  of  its 
Semitic  backgrounds  and  of  Semitic  documents 
hypothetically  lying  behind  the  Greek,   espe- 
cially of  the  Gospels,  the  first  half  of  Acts  and 
Revelation.  Lamsa's  translation  was  really  noth- 
ing but   a  rendering  of   the  late    (Peshitta) 
Syriac,  itself  a  translation  from  Greek;  Torrey's 
was  a  more  or  less  ingenious  attempt  to  recon- 
struct and  translate  an  underlying  Semitic  text. 
In  1941  a  group  of  British  scholars  produced 
the  New  Testament  in  Basic  English.  In  spite 
of  obvious  defects  due  to  the  limited  vocabulary 
of  less  than  a  thousand  words,  the  work  was  well 
done.  But  one  is  disturbed — thinking  of  the 
children  whom  the  volume  was  in  part  supposed 
to  serve — by  passages  such  as  "Happy  are  the 
sad/'  A  similar  translation  of  the  Old  Testament 
was  produced  subsequently  and  the  two  were 
published  together  in  1949  as  The  Basic  Bible. 

XVI.  Jewish  and  Roman  Catholic  Versions 

Work  has  also  continued  in  non-Protestant 
areas.  Jewish  efforts  in  Old  Testament  transla- 
tion began  in  England  with  versions  of  the 
Pentateuch  by  Isaac  Delgado  and  David  Levi 
in  1785  and  1787  and  complete  editions  more 
or  less  in  the  King  James  style  by  Benisch 
(1851-56)  and  Friedlander  (1884).  They  con- 
tinued in  the  United  States  with  the  1853  edi- 
tions of  Isaac  Leeser,  widely  used  in  both  coun- 
tries, and  culminated  in  the  version  published 
by  the  Jewish  Publication  Society  in  1917.  The 
last  was  the  work  of  a  committee  of  scholars 
which  began  operations  in  1892  and  which  took 
full  account  of  the  various  English  versions 
previously  mentioned.85 

Among  Roman  Catholics  the  Reims-Douay 
version  was  soon  subject  to  several  revisions, 
the  most  important  of  which  was  that  of  the 
Douai  scholar,  Richard  Challoner.  His  revision, 
which  practically  amounted  to  a  new  transla- 
tion, was  published  in  1749-50  and  showed  ex- 
tensive influence  of  the  King  James  Version.  It 

85  A  fuller  account  of  Jewish  efforts  is  given  in  Max  L. 
Margolis,  The  Story  of  Bible  Translations  (Philadelphia: 
Jewish  Publication  Society,  1917). 


99 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


became  the  standard  text,  especially  in  the  Old 
Testament.  A  revision  of  Challoner  by  McMa- 
hon  (New  Testament,  1781;  Bible,  1791)  was 
approved  by  Archbishop  Troy  of  Dublin.  Arch- 
bishop F.  P.  Kenrick  of  Philadelphia  also  edited 
a  revised  text  (New  Testament,  1851;  Bible, 
1862) ,  and  a  committee  of  about  twenty-seven 
scholars,  under  the  patronage  of  the  "Episcopal 
Committee  of  the  Confraternity  of  Christian 
Doctrine,"  completed,  after  five  years  of  work, 
a  revision  of  the  New  Testament  which  was  pub- 
lished in  1941.  This,  although  retaining  much 
of  the  traditional  language  and  style,  makes 
some  concession  to  modern  speech.  A  similar 
but  more  independent  and  effective  result  was 
attained  in  the  1944  New  Testament  of  Ronald 
A.  Knox,  a  British  scholar.  In  his  free  style  he 
also  published  in  1948  Vol.  I  (Genesis  to 
Esther)  of  the  Old  Testament.  Vol.  II  (Job  to 
Maccabees)  appeared  in  1950.  While  these 
revisions  take  account  of  the  Hebrew  and  Greek 
texts,  their  official  basis  remains  the  Latin 
Vulgate.  Independent  translations,  however, 
have  been  made  directly  from  the  original  lan- 
guages, the  most  important  of  which  is  the  West- 
minster Version  edited  by  C.  Lattey  and  J. 
Keating.  This  was  published  serially  between 
1913  and  1935,  and  a  one-volume  edition,  re- 
duced in  format  and  slightly  revised,  was  issued 
in  1948.  The  Confraternity  Committee  has  also 
undertaken  a  complete  retranslation  from  the 
original  languages,  following  the  pattern  of  its 
New  Testament  but  giving  up  "deliberate  com- 
promise with  earlier  usage."  Genesis  (1948)  and 
the  Psalms  and  Canticles  (1950)  have  already 
appeared. 

XVIL  The  Revised  Standard  Version 

The  effect  of  the  new  data  bearing  upon 
translation  eventually  found  expression  also  in 
the  institution  of  "official"  projects  both  in  the 
United  States  and  England  for  a  revision  of  the 
Revised  Version.  The  defects  of  the  latter  had 
been  highlighted  by  the  modern  speech  publica- 
tions, and  with  the  lapse  of  time  new  progress 
was  made  in  all  disciplines  bearing  upon  ac- 
curacy of  translation.  New  manuscripts  such  as 
the  Washington  and  Koridethi  Gospels  and  the 
Chester  Beatty  papyri  were  discovered  and  pub- 
lished. Scholars  began  to  show  some  diminution 
of  confidence  in  Hort's  textual  theories  and 
results,  at  least  so  far  as  they  pretended  to  re- 
store the  most  primitive  text  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment. Great  progress  was  made  in  the  study  of 
the   Septuagint   text   of   the   Old  Testament. 
Significant  linguistic  study  and  archaeological 
discovery  continued.  In  the  United  States,  when 
the  American  Standard  Version  copyright  ex- 
pired, it  was  transferred  by  the  publishers  to 
the  International  Council  of  Religious  Educa- 


tion, and  through  this  representative  Protestant 
organization,  two  committees  of  scholars,  with 
Luther  A.  Weigle  as  chairman  of  both,  were 
appointed  to  undertake  revisions  of  the  New 
and  Old  Testaments  respectively.86 

The  work  was  begun  in  1930  and,  except  for 
a  few  lean  years  (1932-37) ,  had  continued  to 
the  time  of  publication.  The  New  Testament 
was  published  in  February,  1946,  and  the  Old 
Testament  will  have  only  just  appeared  when 
this  article  is  published  (1952) .  Recognizing  the 
deficiencies  of  the  Revised  Version,  the  new 
version  aims  not  only  to  be  a  clear,  idiomatic, 
and  "readable"  translation  based  on  the  best 
available  text,  but  also  to  preserve  the  great 
values  of  the  Tyndale-King  James  tradition  for 
use  in  public  and  private  worship.  If  the  whole 
can  be  judged  by  the  New  Testament  part 
(which  alone  is  available  at  the  moment  of 
writing) ,  the  revisers  have  gone  far  toward  the 
achievement  of  these  purposes.  The  modern 
format  and  the  dropping  of  the  antique  forms 
of  the  personal  pronouns  and  verbal  endings 
except  in  address  to  the  deity  and  a  few  other 
places  give  the  impression  of  a  modern  speech 
version,  and  this  is  borne  out  frequently  by  the 
phraseology;  but  in  general,  and  especially  in 
the  familiar  passages,  the  Revised  Version  is 
closely  followed  and  modernized.  An  occasional 
reading  is  adopted  from  the  King  James  Ver- 
sion. Opinion  of  critical  readers  has  differed  on 
a  number  of  specific  passages,  both  as  regards 
text  and  translation,  but  not  on  the  general 
acceptability  of  the  work.  Some  feel  that  the 
revision  did  not  go  far  enough  in  its  adoption 
of  modern  idiom;  others,  replying,  contend  that 
great  progress  has  been  made  in  that  direction 
without  the  sacrifice  of  so  much  of  the  tradi- 
tional English  as  to  alienate  the  majority  of 
readers  and  to  render  the  volume  unacceptable 
for  ecclesiastical  usage.  The  fact  that  the  com- 
mittee of  scholars  which  prepared  the  Revised 
Standard  Version  will  continue,  with  necessary 
changes  in  membership,  as  a  permanent  com- 
mittee of  the  National  Council  of  the  Churches 
of  Christ  in  the  U.  S.  A.,  into  which  the  Inter- 
national Council  of  Religious  Education  has 
merged,  makes  provision  for  progressive  re- 
vision to  eliminate  such  deficiencies  as  may  still 
remain  in  it. 

In  England,  also,  a  movement  for  a  revision 
designed  for  modern  readers  has  been  initiated. 
The  matter  was  discussed  in  the  General  As- 

»8  A  statement  of  the  purpose  and  circumstances  of  the 
work,  of  the  committee  members  and  denominational 
representatives,  etc.,  will  be  found  in  a  pamphlet  written 
by  the  revisers:  An  Introduction  to  the  Revised  Standard 
Version  of  the  New  Testament  (Chicago:  International 
Council  of  Religious  Education,  1946).  A  good  summary 
of  the  progress  in  areas  related  to  translation  is  here 
given. 


100 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


sembly  of  the  Church  o£  Scotland;  and  the 
upper  house  of  the  convocation  of  Canterbury 
on  May  20,  1947,  authorized  the  appointment 
of  an  interdenominational  committee  to  work 
with  the  Cambridge  and  Oxford  presses  upon 
such  a  project.  The  books  of  the  Bible  (includ- 
ing the  Apocrypha)  have  been  allotted  to 
translators.  The  present  secretary  of  the  com- 
mittee is  J.  K.  S.  Reid,  and  the  work  is  under 
the  general  direction  of  C.  H.  Dodd.  It  is  un- 
fortunate that  the  British  and  American  re- 
visions are,  apparently,  entirely  independent  of 
each  other. 

XVIIL  Story  Without  End 

This  brings  us  to  the  end  of  a  story  which 
has  no  end,  for  the  task  of  revision  will  never 
be  completed.  We  have  mapped  out  some  of 
the  main  tributaries  and  sources  which  have 
poured  into  the  mainstream  of  our  English 
Bible.  We  have  had  a  glimpse  of  the  devoted 
efforts  which  have  given  it  to  us  both  in  the 
traditional  text  in  which  especially  it  has  per- 
meated our  English-speaking  culture,  and  in 
the  subsequent  forms  which  have  sought  to 
bring  it  to  us  in  the  most  accurate  and  intelligi- 
ble representations  of  its  original  thought.  As 
certainly  as  the  Bible  remains  the  great  classic 
of  the  Judeo-Christian  faith  and,  indeed,  the 
pre-eminent  religious  classic  of  all  faiths,  so 
surely  will  go  on  the  work  of  making  it  known 
to  all  men,  "each  in  his  own  tongue." 

XIX.  Tables  of  Illustrative  Readings 

KEY  TO  ABBREVIATIONS 
Lin    Lindisfarne  Gospels 
Sh      Shoreham  Psalter 
Lu     Luther's  New  Testament  (1522) 
Wl     First  Wycliffite  Bible  (ca.  1382) 
W2     Second  Wycliffite  Bible  (ca.  1400;  Purvey 

revision?) 
T       Tyndale's  New  Testament  (1525-26) 


C  Coverdale  Bible  (1535) 

Ma  Matthew  Bible  (1537) 

Ta  Taverner  Bible  (1539) 

Gr  Great  Bible  (1539) 

Ge  Geneva  Bible  (1560) 

Ge*  Geneva  Bible  (1579) 

Bl  Bishops'  Bible  (1568) 

B2  Bishops'  Bible  (1572) 

R-D  Reims-Douay  Bible  (1609-10) 

KJV  King  James  Version  (1611) 

ERV  English  Revised  Version  (1881-85) 

ASV  American  Standard  Version  (1901) 

RV  Revised  Version  (English  and  American) 

RSV  Revised  Standard  Version  (1946-52) 

We  Weymouth  New  Testament  (1903) 

M  Moffatt  New  Testament  (1913) ,  Old  Tes- 
tament (1924) 

G  Goodspeed  New  Testament  (1923) 

Am  American    Translation,    Old    Testament 
(1931) 

SOURCES  OF  THE  READINGS 
The  readings  in  the  following  tables  have 
been  taken  directly  from  actual  copies  of  the 
Bibles  listed,  with  the  following  exceptions: 
The  Wycliffe  and  Shoreham  Psalter  passages  are 
from  the  edition  of  Forshall  and  Madden;  the 
Tyndale  Lord's  Prayer  is  from  the  photographic 
facsimile  of  the  quarto  fragment  published  by 
the  Clarendon  Press  in  1926;  the  other  Tyndale 
passages  are  from  the  'Verbatim"  edition  of 
Samuel  Bagster  (London,  1836) ;  the  Lindis- 
farne selection  is  reproduced  from  J.  I.  Mom- 
bert,  A  Handbook  of  the  English  Versions  of  the 
Bible  (2nd.  ed.;  New  York:  D.  Appleton  &  Co., 
1890) ,  p.  7.  The  original  form  is  reproduced, 
except  that  commas  are  substituted  for  virgules, 
and  italicized  words  are  not  so  indicated. 

Thanks  are  accorded  to  the  libraries  of  the 
University  of  Chicago  and  to  the  Newberry 
Library,  Chicago,  for  the  generous  opportunity 
afforded  of  consulting  the  rare  Bibles  in  their 
respective  collections. 


PSALM  23:l-3a 

Sh      Our  Lord  gouerneth  me,  and  nothynge  shal  defailen  to  me;  in  the  stede  of  pasture,  he  sett 

me  ther. 
W1     The  Lord  gouereneth  me,  and  no  thing  to  me  shal  lacke;  in  the  place  of  leswe  where  he  me 

ful  sette. 
W2     The  Lord  gouerneth  me,  and  no  thing  schal  faile  to  me;  in  the  place  of  pasture  there  he 

hath  set  me. 

C        The  Lorde  is  my  shepherde,  I  can  wante  nothinge.  He  fedeth  me  in  a  grene  pasture, 
Ma     The  Lord  is  my  shepherde,  1  can  want  nothynge.  He  fedeth  me  in  a  grene  pasture, 
Ta      The  Lord  is  my  shepherde,  I  can  wante  nothynge.  He  fedeth  me  in  a  grene  pasture, 
Gr      The  Lorde  is  my  shepherde,  therfore  can  I  lack  nothyng.  He  shall  tede  me  in  a  grene  pasture, 
Ge      The  Lord  is  my  shepherd,  I  shal  not  want.  He  maketh  me  to  rest  in  grene  pasture, 
B        God  is  my  sheephearde,  therfore  I  can  lacke  nothyng:  He  wyll  cause  me  to  repose  my  selfe  in 

pasture  full  of  grasse, 

101 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 

R-D    Our  Lord  ruleth  me,  and  nothing  shal  be  wanting  to  me:  in  place  of  pasture  there  he  hath 

placed  me. 

KJV  The  Lord  is  my  shepheard;  I  shall  not  want.  He  maketh  me  to  lie  downe  in  greene  pastures: 
ERV  The  Lord  is  my  shepherd,  I  shall  not  want.  He  maketh  me  to  lie  down  in  green  pastures. 
ASV  Jehovah  is  my  shepherd;  I  shall  not  want.  He  maketh  me  to  lie  down  in  green  pastures; 
RSV  The  Lord  is  my  shepherd,  I  shall  not  want;  He  makes  me  lie  down  in  green  pastures. 
Am    The  Lord  is  my  shepherd;  I  shall  not  want;  In  green  pastures  he  makes  me  lie  down; 

PSALM  23: 1-30 

Sh      He  norissed  me  vp  water  of  fyllynge;  he  turned  my  soule  fram  the  f ende 

W1     Ouer  watir  of  fulfilling  he  nurshide  me;  my  soule  he  conuertide. 

W2     He  nurschide  me  on  the  watir  of  refreischyng;  he  conuertide  my  soule. 

C        and  ledeth  me  to  a  fresh  water.  He  quickeneth  my  soule, 

Ma     and  ledeth  me  to  a  fresh  water.  He  quickeneth  my  soule, 

Ta      and  leadeth  me  to  a  fresh  water.  He  quickeneth  my  soule, 

Gr      and  leade  me  forth  besyde  the  waters  of  comforte.  He  shall  conuerte  my  soule. 

Ge      and  leadeth  me  by  the  stil  waters.  He  restoreth  my  soule. 

B       and  he  wyll  leade  me  vnto  calme  waters.  He  wyll  conuert  my  soule. 

R-D    Vpon  the  water  of  refection  he  hath  brought  me  vp,  he  hath  conuerted  my  soule. 

KJV  He  leadeth  mee  beside  the  still  waters.  He  restoreth  my  soule: 

ERV  He  leadeth  me  beside  the  still  waters.  He  restoreth  my  soul. 

ASV  He  leadeth  me  beside  still  waters.  He  restoreth  my  soul. 

RSV  He  leads  me  beside  still  waters;  he  restores  my  soul. 

Am    Beside  refreshing  waters  he  leads  me.  He  gives  me  new  life; 

PROVERBS  15:17 

W1  Betere  is  to  be  clepid  to  wrtis  with  charitie,  than  to  a  fat  calf  with  hate. 

W2  It  is  betere  to  be  clepid  to  wortis  with  charitie,  than  with  hatrede  to  a  calf  maad  fat. 

C  Better  is  a  meace  of  potage  with  loue,  then  a  fat  oxe  with  euell  will. 

Ma  Better  is  a  messe  of  potage  with  loue,  then  a  fat  oxe  with  euell  wyll. 

Ta  Better  is  a  messe  of  potage  with  loue,  then  a  fat  oxe  with  euyl  wyll. 

Gr  Better  is  a  measse  of  potage  with  loue,  than  a  fat  oxe  with  euell  will. 

Ge  Better  is  a  dinner  of  grene  herbes  where  loue  is,  than  a  stalled  oxe  and  hatred  therewith. 

B  Better  is  a  dynner  of  hearbes  with  loue,  then  a  fat  oxe  with  euyll  wyll. 

R-D  It  is  better  to  be  called  to  herbes  with  charitie,  then  to  a  fatted  calfe  with  hatred. 

KJV  Better  is  a  dinner  of  herbes  where  loue  is,  then  a  stalled  oxe  and  hatred  therewith. 

RV  Better  is  a  dinner  of  herbs  where  love  is,  than  a  stalled  ox  and  hatred  therewith. 

RSV  Better  is  a  dinner  of  herbs  where  love  is  than  a  fatted  ox  and  hatred  with  it. 

Am  Better  a  dish  of  herbs,  where  love  is,  Than  a  fatted  ox,  and  hatred  with  it. 

M  Better  a  dish  of  vegetables,  with  love,  than  the  best  beef  served  with  hatred. 

THE  LORD'S  PRAYER:  MATTHEW  6:9-13 

Lin    Fader  uren  thu  in  Heofnas,  Sie  gehalgud  Nama  thin;  To  Cymeth  ric  thin;  Sie  fillo  thin 
Lu     Unser  vater  ynn  dem  hymel.  Deyn  name  sey  heylig.  Deyn  reych  koine.  Deyn  wille  geschehe 
W*     Oure  fadir  that  art  in  heuenes,  halwid  be  thi  name;  thi  kyngdom  cumme  to,  be  thi  wille  don 
T        O  owe  father,  which  art  in  heven  halewed  be  thy  name.  Let  thy  kyngdom  come.  Thy  wyll  be 

fulfilled, 
KJV  Our  father  which  art  in  heauen,  hallowed  be  thy  name.  Thy  kingdome  come,  Thy  will  be 

done, 


Lin    Suae  is  in  Heofne  and  in  Eortha.  Hlaf  userne  oferwirtlic  sel  us  to  daeg;  and  forgev  us  scyltha 

urna, 
Lu     auff  erden  wie  ynn  dem  hymel.  Unser  teglich  brott  gib  vnns  heutt,  und  vergib  vns  vnsere 

schulde, 
W1     as  in  heuen  so  in  erthe.  3iv  to  vs  this  day  oure  breed  ouer  other  substaunce;  and  forgeue  to  vs 

oure  dettis, 

102 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 

T       as  well  in  erth,  as  hit  ys  in  heven.  Geve  vs  this  daye  cure  dayly  breade.  And  forgeve  vs  oure 

treaspases, 
KJV  in  earth,  as  it  is  in  heauen.  Giue  vs  this  day  our  daily  bread.  And  forgiue  vs  our  debts, 


Lin    suae  we  forgefon  scylgum  urum.  And  ne  inlead  writh  in  Cosnunge.  Al  gefrigurich  from  evil. 
Lu      wie  wyr  vnsern  schuldigen  vergeben,  vnnd  fure  vnns  nitt  ynn  versuchung,  sondern  erlose  vns 

von  dem  vbel, 

W1     as  we  forgeue  to  oure  dettours;  and  leede  vs  nat  in  to  temptacioun,  but  delyuere  vs  fro  yuel. 
T       even  as  we  forgeve  them  whych  treaspas  vs.  Lede  vs  nott  in  to  temptation,  but  delyvre  vs 

from  yvell, 
KJV  as  we  forgiue  our  debters.  And  lead  vs  not  into  temptation,  but  deliuer  vs  from  euil: 

LUKE  2: 14 

W  Glorie  be  in  the  higeste  thingis  to  God:  and  in  erthe  pees  be  to  men  of  good  wille. 

T  Glory  to  God  an  hye,  and  peace  on  the  erth:  and  vnto  men  reioysynge. 

C  Glory  be  vnto  God  an  hye,  and  peace  vpon  earth,  and  vnto  men  a  good  wyll. 

Ma  Glory  to  God  on  hye,  and  peace  on  the  erth,  and  vnto  men  reioysing. 

Ta  Glorye  to  God  on  hye,  and  peace  in  the  erth,  in  men  reioysynge. 

Gr  Glory  to  God  on  hye,  and  peace  on  the  erth.  and  vnto  men  a  good  wyll. 

Ge  Glorie  be  to  God  in  the  high  heauens,  and  peace  in  earth,  and  towards  men  good  wil. 

B*  Glorie  to  God  on  hye,  and  peace  on  the  earth,  and  vnto  men  a  good  wyll. 

B2  Glorie  to  God  in  the  hyghest,  and  peace  on  the  earth,  and  among  menne  a  good  wyL 

R-D  Glorie  in  the  highest  to  God:  and  in  earth  peace  to  men  of  good  will. 

KJV  Glory  to  God  in  the  highest,  and  on  earth  peace,  good  wil  towards  men. 

RV  Glory  to  God  in  the  highest,  and  on  earth  peace  among  men  in  whom  he  is  well  pleased. 

RSV  Glory  to  God  in  the  highest,  and  on  earth  peace  among  men  with  whom  he  is  pleased! 

We  Glory  be  to  God  in  the  highest  heavens,  And  on  earth  peace  among  men  who  please  himl 

M  Glory  to  God  in  high  heaven,  and  peace  on  earth  for  men  whom  he  favours! 

G  Glory  to  God  in  heaven  and  on  earth!  Peace  to  the  men  he  favors! 

ROMANS  3:25a 

W1     Whom  God  purposide  an  helpere  by  feith  in  his  blood, 

W2     whom  God  ordeynede  forjyver  bi  feith  in  his  blood, 

T       whom  God  hath  made  a  seate  of  mercy  thorow  faith  in  his  bloud, 

C       whom  God  hath  set  forth  for  a  Mercy  seate  thorow  faith  in  his  bloude, 

Ma     whom  God  hathe  made  a  seate  of  mercy  thorow  fayth  in  hys  bloud, 

Ta     to  whome  God  hathe  made  a  seate  of  mercye,  thorowe  fayth  in  his  bloude, 

Gr      whom  God  hath  set  forth  to  be  the  obtayner  of  mercy  thorow  fayth,  by  the  meanes  of  hys 

bloude, 

Ge      whom  God  hathe  set  forthe  to  be  a  reconciliation  through  faith  in  his  blood, 
B       whom  God  hath  set  foorth  to  be  a  propitiation,  through  fayth  in  his  blood, 
R-D    Whom  God  hath  proposed  a  propitiation,  by  faith  in  his  bloud, 
KJV  Whom  God  hath  set  forth  to  bee  a  propitiation,  through  faith  in  his  blood, 
ERV  whom  God  set  forth  to  be  a  propitiation,  through  faith,  by  his  blood, 
ASV  whom  God  set  forth  to  be  a  propitiation,  through  faith,  in  his  blood, 
RSV  whom  God  put  forward  as  an  expiation  by  his  blood,  to  be  received  by  faith. 
We     whom  God  put  forward  as  a  Mercy-Seat,  rendered  efficacious  through  faith  in  His  blood, 
M       whom  God  put  forward  as  the  means  of  propitiation  by  his  blood,  to  be  received  by  faith. 
G       For  God  showed  him  publicly  dying  as  a  sacrifice  of  reconciliation  to  be  taken  advantage  of 

through  faith. 

I  CORINTHIANS  13:4-50 

W*     Charite  is  pacient,  it  is  benynge  or  of  good  will,  .  .  .  ,  it  doth  not  gyle,  it  is  not  inblownyn 

with  pride, 

W2     Charite  is  pacient,  it  is  benynge;  .  . . ,  it  doeth  not  wickidli,  it  is  not  blowun, 
T       Love  suffreth  longe,  and  is  corteous. . . »  Love  doth  nott  frawardly,  swelleth  not, 

103 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 

C        Loue  is  pacient  and  curteous, . .  . ,  loue  doth  not  frowardly,  is  not  puft  vp, 

Ma     Loue  suffreth  longe,  and  is  corteous ,  Loue  doth  not  frowardly,  swelleth  not, 

Ta     Loue  suffreth  longe,  is  curteous. . . . ,  Loue  doth  not  frowardely,  swelleth  not, 

Gr      Loue  suffreth  longe,  and  is  curteous ,  Loue  doth  not  frowardly,  swelleth  not, 

Ge      Loue  suffreth  long,  it  is  bountiful:  . . . :  loue  doeth  not  boast  itself;  it  is  not  puffed  vp; 
Bi      Loue  suffreth  long,  and  is  curteous. . . . ,  loue  doth  not  frowardely,  swelleth  not, 
B2      Charitie  suffereth  long,  and  is  curteous:  . . . ,  charitie  doth  not  frowardly,  swelleth  not, 
R-D    Charitie  is  patient,  is  benigne:  . . . ,  dealeth  not  peruersly:  is  not  puffed  vp, 
KJV  Charitie  suffereth  long,  and  is  kinde:  . . .  :  charitie  vaunteth  not  itselfe,  is  not  puffed  vp, 
RV     Love  suffereth  long,  and  is  kind;  . .  . ;  love  vaunteth  not  itself,  is  not  puffed  up, 
RSV  Love  is  patient  and  kind;  love  is  not ...  boastful;  it  is  not  arrogant  or  rude. 
We     Love  is  patient  and  kind;  .  . .  Love  is  not  forward  and  self-assertive,  nor  boastful  and  con 
ceited. 

M      Love  is  very  patient,  very  kind Love  makes  no  parade,  gives  itself  no  airs, 

G        Love  is  patient  and  kind.  Love  is  not ...  boastful.  It  does  not  put  on  airs. 

HEBREWS  11:  la 

Wl     Forsothe  faith  is  the  substaunce  of  thingis  that  ben  to  be  hopid, 

W2     But  faith  is  the  substaunce  of  thingis  that  ben  to  be  hopid, 

T       Faith  is  a  sure  confidence  off  thynges  which  are  hoped  for, 

C        Faith  is  a  sure  confidence  of  thinges  which  are  hoped  for, 

Ma     Fayth  is  a  sure  confydence  of  thinges  which  are  hoped  for, 

Ta     Faith  is  a  sure  confydence  of  thynges  whiche  are  hoped  for, 

Gr      Fayth  is  a  sure  confydence  of  thynges,  whych  are  hoped  for, 

Ge      Fayth  is  that,  which  causeth  those  things  to  appeare  in  deed  which  are  hoped  for, 

Ge2    Now  faith  is  the  grounde  of  things,  which  are  hoped  for, 

B        Fayth  is  the  grounde  of  thynges  hoped  for, 

R-D   And  faith  is,  the  substance  of  things  to  be  hoped  for, 

KJV  Now  faith  is  the  substance  of  things  hoped  for, 

ERV  Now  faith  is  the  assurance  of  things  hoped  for, 

ASV  Now  faith  is  assurance  of  things  hoped  for, 

RSV  Now  faith  is  the  assurance  of  things  hoped  for, 

We     Now  faith  is  a  well-grounded  assurance  of  that  for  which  we  hope, 

M       Now  faith  means  we  are  confident  of  what  we  hope  for, 

G       Faith  means  the  assurance  of  what  we  hope  for, 

HEBREWS  11:16 

Wl  and  an  argument  or  certaynte  of  thingis  not  apperinge. 

W2  and  an  argument  of  thingis  not  apperynge. 

T  and  a  certayntie  of  thynges  which  are  not  sene. 

C  and  a  certaynte  of  thinges  which  are  not  sene. 

Ma  and  a  certayntie  of  thynges  whych  are  not  sene. 

Ta  and  a  certaynte  of  thinges  whiche  are  not  sene. 

Gr  and  a  certayntie  of  thynges  whych  are  riot  sene. 

Ge  and  sheweth  euidently  the  thinges  which  are  not  sene. 

Ge2  and  the  euidence  of  things  which  are  not  sene. 

B  the  euidence  of  thynges  not  scene. 

R-D  the  argument  of  things  not  appearing. 

KJV  the  euidence  of  things  not  seen. 

ERV  the  proving  of  things  not  seen. 

ASV  a  conviction  of  things  not  seen. 

RSV  the  conviction  of  things  not  seen. 

We  and  a  conviction  of  the  reality  of  things  which  we  do  not  see, 

M  convinced  of  what  we  do  not  see. 

G  it  is  our  conviction  about  things  that  we  cannot  see. 

104 


THE  ENGLISH  BIBLE 


XX.  Selected  Bibliography 

BUTTERWORTH,  CHARLES  C.  The  Literary  Lineage  of 
the  King  James  Bible.  Philadelphia:  University  of 
Philadelphia  Press,  1941. 

DAICHES,  DAVID.  The  King  James  Version  of  the 
English  Bible.  Chicago:  University  of  Chicago 
Press,  1941. 

DARLOW,  T.  H.,  and  MOULE,  H.  F.  Historical  Cata- 
logue of  the  Printed  Editions  of  Holy  Scripture 
in  the  Library  of  the  British  and  Foreign  Bible 
Society.  London:  The  Bible  House,  1903-11. 

EADIE,  JOHN.  The  English  Bible.  London:  Macmillan 
&  Co.,  1876. 

GOODSPEED,  E.  J.  The  Making  of  the  English  New 
Testament.  Chicago:  University  of  Chicago  Press, 
1925. 

^UPPY,  HENRY.  A  Brief  Sketch  of  the  History  of  the 
Transmission  of  the  Bible.  Manchester:  Manches- 
ter University  Press,  1936. 

KENYON,  FREDERIC  GEORGE,  Our  Bible  and  the 
Ancient  Manuscripts.  New  York:  Harper  &  Bros., 
1940. 

PENNIMAN,  JOSIAH  H.  A  Book  About  the  English 
Bible.  New  York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1919. 


POLLARD,  ALFRED  W.  Records  of  the  English  Bible. 

Oxford:  Henry  Frowde,  1911. 
PRICE,  IRA  MAURICE.  The  Ancestry  of  Our  English 

Bible.  Ed.  W.  A.  Irwin  and  Allen  Wikgren.  New 

York:  Harper  &  Bros.,  1949. 
ROBINSON,  H.  WHEELER,  ed.  The  Bible  in  Its  Ancient 

and  English  Versions.  Oxford:  Clarendon  Press, 

1940. 

SCHAFF,  PHILIP.  A  Companion  to  the  Greek  Testa- 
ment and  the  English  Version.  New  York:  Harper 

&  Bros,,  1883. 
SIMMS,  P.  MARION.  The  Bible  in  America.  New  York: 

Wilson-Erickson,  1936. 
WEIGLE,  LUTHER  A.  The  English  New  Testament 

from  Tyndale  to  the  Revised  Standard  Version. 

New  York  and  Nashville:   Abingdon-Cokesbury 

Press,  1949. 
WESTCOTT,  B.  F.  A  General  View  of  the  History  of 

the  English  Bible.  3rd  ed.,  rev.  W.  A.  Wright. 

London:  Macmillan  &  Co.,  1905. 
WILD,  LAURA  H.  The  Romance  of  the  English  Bible. 

Garden  City:  Doubleday,  Doran  &  Co.,  1929. 
An  Introduction  to  the  Revised  Standard  Version  of 

the  New  Testament.  Chicago:  International  Coun- 
cil of  Religious  Education,  1946. 


105 


HISTORY  OF  THE  INTERPRETATION 

OF  THE  BIBLE 

I.   ANCIENT  PERIOD 
by  ROBERT  M.  GRANT 


I.  Sources 
II.  Beginnings 

III.  The  Second  Century  and  the  Problem  of  Au- 
thority 

During  the  early  centuries  of  the  life  of  the 
Christian  church,  its  Bible  was  the  Gieek  ver- 
sion of  the  Old  Testament  known  as  the  Septua- 
gint.  According  to  legend,  it  had  been  translated 
entire  by  seventy-two  Hebrew  scholars  whose 
results  were  completely  in  agreement.  The 
translation,  like  the  original  Hebrew  text,  was 
regarded  as  verbally  inspired  by  God.  Only  in 
the  course  of  the  second  century  did  the  Greek 
New  Testament  come  to  possess  a  status  equiva- 
lent to  that  of  the  Septuagint.  The  Greek  Old 
Testament  remained  basic  But  the  religious 
ideas  of  the  Old  Testament,  even  in  Greek 
dress,  were  not  entirely  in  harmony  with  those 
of  the  New  Testament  or  of  early  Christian 
theology.  The  experience  of  the  children  of 
Israel  in  the  distant  past,  in  nomadic  or  agri- 
cultural cultures,  was  different  from  the  experi- 
ence of  Christians  in  the  crowded  half-Hellen- 
ized  cities  of  the  Roman  Empire.  The  Christian, 
striving  to  express  the  meaning  of  his  faith, 
might  have  abandoned  the  Old  Testament,  ad- 
mitting that  "time  makes  ancient  good  un- 
couth" *  had  he  not  possessed  a  boundless  ven- 
eration for  the  mysterious  wisdom  of  the  past, 
as  well  as  methods  of  reinterpreting  that  wisdom 
and  of  making  it  comprehensible  for  his  own 
times. 

I.  Sources 

Some  of  these  methods  of  interpretation  were 
traditional  in  the  Judaism  out  of  which  Chris- 

i  See  Robert  M.  Grant,  "The  Place  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment in  Early  Christianity,"  Interpretation,  V  (1951), 
186-202. 


IV.  Alexandria  and  Antioch 
V.  Jerome  and  Augustine 
VI.  Handbooks 


tianity  arose;  others  were  gifts  of  the  Hellenistic 
schools;  and  others  were  standards  of  interpreta- 
tion ultimately  developed  within  the  church 
itself.  Let  us  first  consider  Jewish  methods  of 
exegesis.  Within  the  Old  Testament  we  can 
trace  the  reinterpretation  of  the  cardinal  events 
of  religious  history.  Along  with  a  progressive 
revelation  went  a  progressive  interpretation,2 
especially  in  the  writings  of  the  prophets.  Still 
later  the  prophets  themselves  were  reinterpreted 
in  the  works  of  the  apocalyptic  writers  of  Juda- 
ism. Not  the  Old  Testament  as  we  view  it  in  the 
light  of  historical  research,  but  the  Old  Testa- 
ment explained  by  apocalyptic  interpretation, 
was  the  Bible  of  the  earliest  church.3  The  earli- 
est Christians  did  not  understand  the  Bible 
from  its  text  alone,  but  from  the  mass  of  legends 
and  legal  decisions  which  had  gathered  about 
it  in  the  previous  two  or  three  centuries.  The 
stories  are  usually  called  "haggada";  under  this 
heading  may  be  classified  all  the  nonlegal  inter- 
pretations of  scripture.*  Beside  them  stood  the 
"halakah,"  interpretations  by  which  the  Scrip- 
tures could  be  made  to  govern  every  detail  of 
Jewish  civil  and  religious  life.5  Both  types  of 
exegesis  are  found  in  early  Christianity.  Both 
are  based  on  the  literal  meaning  of  a  text, 
usually  taken  out  of  context,  but  never  con- 

aj.  A.  Bewer,  "Progressive  Interpretation,"  Anglican 
Theological  Review,  XXIV  (1942),  89-100. 

'Ethelbert  Stauffer,  Die  Theologie  des  Neuen  Testa" 
ments  (Stuttgart:  W.  Kohlhammer,  1947),  pp.  1  ff. 

*  See  Louis  Ginzberg,  The  Legends  of  the  Jews  (Phila- 
delphia:  Jewish  Publication  Society,  1908-38). 

8  See^  Herbert  Danby,  The  Mishnah  (Oxford:  Clarei* 
don  Press,  1933);  also  Vol.  VII,  pp.  109-12, 


106 


ANCIENT  PERIOD 


tradicted.  For  in  Jewish  eyes  the  whole  Bible 
was  verbally  inspired  by  God.  There  could  be 
no  question  of  contradiction  or  error. 

Not  all  Jews,  however,  were  completely  true  to 
their  inherited  tenets.  Those  who  lived  outside 
Palestine  had  a  tendency  to  make  the  Bible  say 
what  their  more  enlightened  neighbors  said. 
They  admired  the  "assured  results"  of  Greek 
philosophy  and  wanted  to  enjoy  a  synthesis  be- 
tween philosophy  and  religion.  The  most  promi- 
nent "modernist"  of  ancient  Judaism  was  Philo 
of  Alexandria.  While  he  once  called  Jerusalem 
his  native  city,6  his  intellectual  life  was  largely 
centered  in  Hellenistic  Alexandria.  It  was  there 
that  forerunners  whom  he  occasionally  men- 
tions had  learned  to  interpret  the  Old  Testa- 
ment allegorically. 

The  allegorical  method  is  as  old  as  the  rise  of 
Greek  philosophy,  and  probably  owes  its  exist- 
ence to  it.  With  the  development  of  the  Ionian 
philosophy  of  nature,  it  became  impossible  for 
an  intelligent  man  to  continue  to  take  myths 
literally.  It  was  especially  difficult  to  accept 
Homer  and  Hesiod,  in  whose  writings  the  im- 
moralities of  the  gods  were  described.7  And 
from  the  sixth  century  B.C.  until  the  end  of 
antiquity — and  in  the  Renaissance — there  were 
many  writers  who  attempted  to  get  rid  of  the 
difficulties  by  claiming  that  the  poets  were 
really  writing  about  something  else.  This  "some- 
thing else"  was  usually  thought  to  be  the  nature 
of  the  physical  universe  (Iliad,  Theogony)  or 
of  ethics  (Odyssey,  Works  and  Days) .  Plato  or 
Epicurean  literalists  might  criticize  mythology; 
it  could  be  claimed  that  this  criticism  was  due 
to  misunderstanding.  Among  Stoic  writers,  who 
combined  a  fairly  complete  rationalism  with  a 
cautious  enthusiasm  for  the  status  quo,  the 
allegorical  method  was  especially  popular.  In 
the  first  century  of  our  era  one  of  them  set  forth 
his  underlying  principles  as  follows: 

You,  O  son,  can  refer  the  mythical  traditions 
concerning  the  gods  to  the  elements  which  are 
typified,  ia  the  belief  that  the  ancients  were  not 
ordinary  men,  but  that  they  too  were  able  to  under- 
stand the  nature  of  the  world  and  were  disposed  to 
philosophize  about  it  through  symbols  and  dark 
sayings.8 

So  also  a  Jew,  reading  his  Greek  Old  Testament 
and  finding  it  full  of  anthropomorphic  expres- 
sions, might  come  to  believe  that  God  had 
spoken  to  men  through  symbols  and  dark  say- 
ings. And  he  would  observe  the  fact  that  the 
heroes  of  the  Old  Testament,  like  those  of 
Homer,  lived  on  a  different  plane  from  men  of 

8  Legation  to  Gains  278 

7  Fritz  Wehrli,  Zur  Geschichte  der  allegorischen  Deu* 
tung  Homers  im  Altertum  (Basel:  1928),  p.  88. 

8  Cornutus,  Theologiae  graecae  compendium  31. 


his  own  time.  Their  lives  seemed  simpler.  They 
must  have  been  types  or  examples.  And  an 
etymological  analysis  of  their  names  might 
prove  to  the  analyst  (if  to  no  one  else)  that  they 
were  really  personified  virtues.  Philo  makes  such 
a  study,  and  it  is  so  unconvincing  that  recent 
critics  have  doubted  his  knowledge  of  the  He- 
brew language.9 

The  allegorical  method  has  very  little  rational 
justification,  but  it  was  highly  popular  in  an- 
tiquity. It  made  possible  the  retention  of  Homer 
as  a  schoolbook  in  spite  of  the  criticism  of  the 
intelligentsia.  Within  Christianity  and  Judaism 
it  was  the  first  line  of  defense  for  the  Old  Testa- 
ment. Even  as  early  as  the  first  century  the 
method  is  used  at  least  twice.  The  first  and 
more  famous  instance  is  found  in  Gal.  4:21-24: 
"Tell  me,  you  who  desire  to  be  under  law,  do 
you  not  hear  the  law?  For  it  is  written  that 
Abraham  had  two  sons,  one  by  a  slave  and  one 
by  a  free  woman.  But  the  son  of  the  slave  was 
born  according  to  the  flesh,  the  son  of  the  free 
woman  through  promise.  Now  this  is  an  alle- 
gory: these  women  are  two  covenants."  Here 
Paul,  interpreting  the  history  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment as  full  of  types  or  examples  for  us — "what- 
ever was  written  in  former  days  was  written  for 
our  instruction"  (Rom.  15:4) — goes  so  far  as  to 
use  the  Greek  word  for  "allegory."  These  things, 
he  says,  were  meant  allegorically  by  the  writers 
of  scripture.  Modern  readers  may  doubt  the  ac- 
curacy of  Paul's  exegesis;  but  in  its  day  it  made 
the  Old  Testament  meaningful  for  many  Greek- 
speaking  Jews  and  Christians. 

The  other  example  is  in  the  Revelation  of 
John.  As  a  whole,  this  apocalypse  is  written  in 
a  style  and  form  intentionally  enigmatic.  In  a 
description  of  the  fall  of  the  great  city  Jerusa- 
lem, the  author  explains  that  allegorically  it  is 
called  Sodom  and  Egypt,  for  the  Lord  was 
crucified  there  (Rev.  11:8).  He  knows  that  in 
his  Old  Testament  Jerusalem  is  sometimes 
called  Sodom  because  of  its  wickedness  (e.g., 
Isa.  1:9) ;  he  himself  contributes  the  identifica- 
tion with  Egypt. 

II.  Beginnings 

In  the  New  Testament  allegorical  exegesis  is 
not  ordinarily  used.  Most  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment writers  stand  close  to  Judaism  and  inter- 
pret the  Old  Testament  literally.  Nevertheless 
there  is  a  certain  air  of  freedom  about  their 
exegesis  which  is  not  found  among  the  rabbis. 
Where  does  this  freedom  come  from?  It  comes 
from  Jesus  himself.  Jesus  was  the  creator  of 
Christian  biblical  interpretation.  His  exegesis 
has  within  it  a  double  attitude  to  his  Bible, 

»  Edmund  Stein,  Die  allegorische  Exegese  des  Philo  am 
Alexandreia  (Giessen:  Alfred  Topelmann,  1929),  pp, 
20  ff. 


107 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


though  later  interpreters  develop  only  single 
aspects  of  his  thought. 

This  double  relationship  to  the  Old  Testa- 
ment has  troubled  commentators  on  the  Gospels 
since  ancient  times.  On  the  one  hand,  Jesus 
takes  the  Old  Testament  as  it  stands  and  insists 
on  its  permanent  authority.  On  the  other,  he 
ventures  to  criticize  it,  to  reinterpret  it,  to 
attack  not  only  traditional  interpretations  but 
even  scripture  itself.  Is  not  such  an  attitude 
paradoxical?  By  critical  methods  can  we  get  rid 
of  one  or  the  other  aspect  of  Jesus'  interpreta- 
tion? Unfortunately,  only  an  arbitrary  criticism 
can  water  down  the  difficulty  which  we  face. 

Well-attested  sayings  of  the  Lord  prove  that 
his  relationship  to  the  Jewish  scriptures  was 
bipolar.  Brought  up  in  a  conservative  Jewish 
family,  he  respected  the  authority  of  the  law. 
To  a  man  who  wanted  to  "inherit  eternal  life" 
Jesus /quoted  the  second  table  of  the  Decalogue 
(Mar/k  10:19).10  He  could  attack  the  tradition 
of  tie  Pharisees  by  claiming  that  they  aban- 
doned the  "commandment  of  God"  (Mark 
7:8-9).  While  there  were  those  who  argued 
that  he  was  destroying  the  law,  he  could  be 
remembered  as  saying  that  he  intended  only  to 
reinterpret  it.  His  aim  was  revitalization,  not 
destruction.  David  was  not  the  only  writer  of 
scripture  to  speak  "in  the  Holy  Spirit"  (Mark 
12:86);  Moses  and  the  other  prophets  must 
have  spoken  or  written  in  the  Spirit  as  well.  The 
testimony  of  the  Spirit  could  not  be  rejected. 

At  the  same  time,  Jesus  freely  criticized  the 
Old  Testament.  His  reinterpretation  of  the  sab- 
bath (Mark  2:27;  3:4)  is  at  least  implicitly 
contradictory  to  the  fourth  commandment 
(Exod.  20:8-11).  And  in  his  rejection  of  the 
possibility  of  divorce  he  stands  opposed  to  Deut. 
24:1  (Moses'  bill  of  divorcement) ,  claiming  that 
it  is  based  on  the  "hardheartedness"  of  the  peo- 
ple. He  relegates  the  verse  to  a  secondary  place 
compared  with  Gen.  2:24  ("they  shall  be  one 
flesh").  He  contrasts  the  word  of  Moses  with 
the  word  of  God.  For  the  normal  Jewish  inter- 
preter such  a  contrast  was  inconceivable.  Again, 
in  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount  we  find  a  whole 
series  of  such  contrasts:  "You  have  heard  that 
it  was  said  to  the  ancients  .  .  .  but  I  say.  .  .  ." 
Jesus  speaks  with  the  authority  of  a  prophet, 
and  of  one  greater  than  a  prophet. 

Above  all,  in  the  Last  Supper  Jesus  interprets 
the  Old  Testament  idea  of  a  covenant,  and  of 
a  new  spiritual  covenant,  in  relation  to  himself 
and  his  disciples.  It  is  this  interpretation  which 
provides  a  seed  for  the  growth  of  the  later 
Christocentric  exegesis  of  the  Old  Testament. 
Paul,  for  example,  not  only  repeats  the  words 

i°See  Robert  M.  Grant,  "The  Decalogue  in  Early 
Christianity,"  Harvard  Theological  Review,  XL  (1947), 
M7. 


of  the  Lord  at  the  Last  Supper  (I  Cor.  11:24- 
25) ,  but  goes  on  to  take  the  whole  experience 
of  Israel  at  the  Exodus  as  typical  of  the  later 
experience  of  Jesus  and  his  church  (I  Cor. 
10: Iff.).  At  a  later  date  the  evangelist  John 
interprets  the  Eucharist  in  terms  of  the  "bread 
of  heaven,"  the  manna  which  the  Israelites  ate 
in  the  desert. 

One  book  of  the  New  Testament  is  almost 
entirely  devoted  to  interpretation  of  the  mean- 
ing of  Jesus  in  terms  of  the  Old  Testament 
This  book  is  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews.  It 
finds  its  starting  point  in  the  resemblances  be- 
tween Jesus  and  the  mysterious  Melchizedek  of 
Gen.  14:18-20.  Unlike  the  other  actors  on  the 
stage  of  the  patriarchal  histories,  Melchizedek 
suddenly  appears  and  as  suddenly  disappears. 
He  comes  only  to  bless  Abraham.  And  in  his 
career,  "without  beginning  of  life  or  end  of 
days,"  the  author  of  Hebrews  could  find  pretypi- 
fied  the  work  of  Jesus.  Again,  he  can  compare 
this  work  with  the  sacrificial  cultus  of  the  Le- 
vitical  priesthood,  and  see  how  closely  related 
both  sacrifices  are — and  how  much  more  effica- 
cious that  of  Jesus  is.11 

In  the  New  Testament  as  a  whole,  the  Old 
Testament  is  treated  as  a  book  of  hope.  Chris- 
tians, following  the  example  of  Jesus  and  build- 
ing upon  it,  gradually  came  to  reject  the  Jew- 
ish law  as  law.  But  since  it  was  the  inspired 
word  of  God,  it  must  (they  believed)  contain  a 
deeper  meaning.  This  meaning  they  found  in 
types  of  Christ  and  of  his  church.  "As  Moses 
lifted  up  the  serpent  in  the  wilderness,  so  must 
the  Son  of  Man  be  lifted  up"  (John  3:14) .  And 
the  author  of  I  Peter  expresses  the  normal  Chris- 
tian belief  that  the  prophets  could  not  be 
understood  without  the  spirit  of  Christ  (I  Pet. 
1:1041;  cf.  II  Cor.  5:12-18). 

III.  The  Second  Century  and  the  Problem  of 
Authority 

As  the  Christian  church  expanded  into  the 
world  of  Hellenistic  culture,  there  were  many 
within  it  who  hoped  that  its  Jewish  chrysalis 
could  be  discarded.  Most  of  the  heretical  minor- 
ity groups  of  the  second  century  were  militantly 
anti-Jewish.  Marcion,  for  example,  was  con- 
vinced that  he  could  distinguish  between  the 
essence  of  Christianity  and  the  additions  which 
the  Jewish  disciples  of  Jesus  had  made.  He  ac- 
cepted only  one  gospel,  that  of  Luke,  and  with 
the  scissors  of  criticism  removed  what  he  con- 
sidered the  interpolations  of  Judaizers.  Such  a 
man  naturally  attacked  the  Old  Testament  with 
vigor.  It  was  irrational  and  immoral.  When 
defenders  of  the  book  tried  to  interpret  it  alle- 
gorically,  their  attempts  were  greeted  with  de- 

*iR.  K.  Yerkes,  "Atonement,"  Anglican  Theological 
Review,  XXIX  (1947),  28-33. 


108 


ANCIENT  PERIOD 


rision.  But  in  the  second  century  allegorization 
was  inevitable  if  Christianity  was  to  be  pre- 
served and  not  transformed.  And  in  upholding 
allegorization  it  became  necessary  to  insist  on 
the  right  of  the  church  to  interpret  the  true 
meaning  of  scripture.  Only  those  who  had  re- 
ceived the  apostolic  teaching  through  the  apos- 
tolic succession  could  be  trusted  as  interpreters. 
There  is  a  considerable  measure  of  truth  in  this 
contention.  Without  sympathy,  there  could  be 
no  possibility  of  understanding.  Those  who  did 
not  share  the  life  of  the  main  stream  of  Chris- 
tianity could  not  understand  the  books  which 
came  from  an  earlier  level  of  the  same  river. 

Late  in  the  second  century  Irenaeus,  bishop 
of  Lyons,  set  forth  this  principle  in  his  work 
against  heresies.  It  was  a  principle  not  so  much 
invented  as  developed  and  defended  in  the  heat 
of  controversy. 

When  they  are  refuted  from  the  scriptures,  they 
shift  their  ground  and  censure  the  scriptures,  de- 
claring that  they  are  wrong  or  are  not  authoritative, 
or  that  there  are  various  readings,  and  that  the 
truth  cannot  be  discovered  from  these  by  those  who 
do  not  know  the  tradition.12 

By  "tradition"  the  Gnostics  meant  their  own 
secret  oral  tradition,  unknown  to  the  church  as 
a  whole.  Irenaeus  replies  that  the  church  is  the 
guardian  of  scripture,  that  the  orthodox  tradi- 
tion is  known  to  all,  and  that  it  alone  is  true. 
The  same  point  of  view  was  espoused  at 
Carthage  by  Tertullian  and  expressed  in  the 
language  of  Roman  law.  When  questions  of 
interpretation  arise,  the  church  can  enter  a 
"prescription,"  a  petition  based  on  the  fact 
that  the  Scriptures  are  the  legal  property  of  the 
church.  The  prescription  is  intended  to  make 
the  position  of  heretics  so  precarious  that  their 
case  will  never  come  to  court.  Why  argue  with 
them  when  it  is  not  always  certain  that  we  are 
to  be  victorious? 

They  put  forward  the  scriptures  and  by  their 
audacity  make  an  immediate  impression  on  some 
people.  ...  If  their  strength  consists  in  the  fact 
that  they  are  able  to  possess  them,  we  must  see  to 
whom  the  scriptures  belong,  so  that  no  one  is  ad- 
mitted to  them  who  is  not  legally  competent.18 

By  this  argument  Tertullian  seeks  to  transfer 
the  battle  to  a  ground  where  the  church  can 
feel  more  confident  of  success. 

A  Christian  might  well  admit  that  heretics 
did  not  have  the  right  to  interpret  the  Bible. 
But  how  were  those  within  the  church  to  in- 
terpret it?  What  standard  were  they  to  use? 
Irenaeus  and  Tertullian  agree  in  answering  that 
the  only  correct  exegesis  is  to  be  made  according 


«  Against  Heresies  III.  2,  1. 

18  Prescription  Against  Heretics  15. 


to  the  "rule  of  faith" — essentially  the  common 
Christian  creed.  And  in  the  subsequent  history 
of  interpretation  the  rule  of  faith  plays  a  promi- 
nent part.  Indeed,  theology  and  exegesis  were 
never  divorced  in  antiquity.  The  best  example 
of  their  union  is  found  in  the  Commonitorium 
of  Vincent  of  L&ins  (fifth  century) ,  where  the 
rule  is  laid  down  that  interpretation  must  be 
made  according  to  the  Catholic  faith.  What  is 
the  Catholic  faith?  It  is  what  has  been  held 
"everywhere,  always,  and  by  everyone."  14  Ob- 
viously this  definition  represents  an  ideal  rather 
than  an  actuality;  and  in  practice  it  eventually 
proved  unworkable.  But  it  represents  an  ancient 
attempt  to  base  interpretation  by  authority  on 
the  rational  ground  of  universal  consent. 

Such  an  appeal  to  external  authority,  even 
though  Bible  and  church  were  not  regarded  as 
independent  entities,  was  not  altogether  satis- 
factory. It  did  not  give  any  guidance  in  internal 
disputes.  In  the  quarrels  between  the  exegetical 
schools  of  Alexandria  and  Antioch  it  could  not 
be  employed.  Many  passages  in  scripture  re- 
ceived little  illumination  from  the  rule  of  faith, 
and  therefore  some  other  standard  was  neces- 
sary. The  lack  of  such  a  standard,  among  other 
things,  accounts  for  the  inconclusiveness  of  the 
disputes  between  Alexandria  and  Antioch. 

IV.  Alexandria  and  Antioch 

The  conflict  between  Alexandria  and  Antioch 
was  not  entirely  a  matter  of  exegetical  theory. 
The  two  cities  were  respectively  second  and 
third  in  the  Roman  Empire; 15  and  one  may 
suspect  the  existence  of  a  rivalry  like  that  be- 
tween New  York  and  Chicago.  Again,  the  the- 
ological viewpoints  of  the  two  churches  were 
quite  different.  Their  emphases  were  divergent 
especially  in  matters  of  Christology.18  Alexan- 
dria may  be  called  Platonist,  while  Antioch  was 
Aristotelian.  To  say  this  is  to  oversimplify  the 
situation,  but  the  statement  is  essentially  true. 

In  the  biblical  interpretation  the  two  schools 
were  divided  over  the  problem  of  the  allegoriza- 
tion of  scripture.  To  the  Alexandrians  it  seemed 
that  God  had  intentionally  placed  stumbling 
blocks  in  the  Bible  in  order  to  awaken  men's 
minds.  There  were  hidden  truths  behind  the 
literal  meanings.  Following  the  Jewish  exegete 
Philo,  Clement  of  Alexandria  finds  hidden 
meanings  throughout  the  Old  Testament. 

The  gnostic  [or,  as  Clement  uses  the  term,  true 
Christian]  does  not  merely  lend  his  ear  to  the  words 
of  scripture;  he  opens  his  very  soul  to  what  is  hid- 

i*  Commonitorium  II.  3, 

15  K  O.  Miiller,  Antiquitates  Antiochenae  (Gottingen: 
1839),  p.  2. 

18  See  R.  V.  Sellers,  Two  Ancient  Christologies  (Lon- 
don: Society  for  Promoting  Christian  Knowledge,  1940). 


109 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


den  under  the  words:  realities  to  know  and  actions 
to  do.1T 

But  Clement  was  no  systematize!.  Indeed,  his 
longest  extant  work  is  called  Scrapbooks  or 
Miscellanies.  Any  genuine  theoretical  analysis 
of  allegorization  had  to  be  supplied  by  his  suc- 
cessors at  Alexandria.  And  it  is  in  the  On  First 
Principles  of  Origen  that  we  find  this  analysis 
set  forth: 

Wherever  in  the  narrative  [of  scripture]  the  ac- 
complishment of  some  particular  deeds  did  not  cor- 
respond with  the  sequence  of  the  intellectual  truths, 
the  scripture  wove  into  the  story  something  which 
did  not  happen,  occasionally  something  which  could 
not  happen,  and  occasionally  something  which 
might  have  happened  but  in  fact  did  not.18 

Therefore  the  difficulties  of  scripture  themselves 
suggest  the  existence  of  a  deeper  meaning. 
Origen  gives  examples  of  such  difficulties  from 
the  Old  Testament.  There  are  days  described  in 
Genesis  before  the  creation  of  sun  and  moon; 
obviously  this  is  impossible;  equally  obviously 
there  must  be  a  hidden  meaning.  Surprisingly, 
he  finds  these  difficulties  also  in  the  New  Testa- 
ment: "Even  the  gospels  are  full  of  passages  of 
this  kind,  as  when  the  devil  takes  Jesus  up  into 
a  high  mountain.  .  .  ." 19  The  devil  shows  Jesus 
all  the  kingdoms  of  the  earth  (Matt.  4:8) ; 
obviously  again,  there  is  no  mountain  from 
which  all  the  kingdoms  can  be  seen;  therefore 
the  story  does  not  mean  what  it  says.  Further- 
more, the  Gospels  disagree  among  themselves  in 
regard  to  the  order  of  events  in  Jesus'  life.  In 
theory,  scripture  is  entirely  self-consistent  and 
accurate.  The  history  it  seems  to  portray  is  not 
consistent  or  accurate.  Therefore  there  must  be 
an  allegorical  meaning.  In  fact,  because  in  the 
Septuagint  Prov.  22:20-21  reads,  "Do  thou  thrice 
record  them  .  .  .  that  thou  mayest  answer  with 
words  of  truth,"  there  is  a  threefold  meaning 
in  scripture.  This  meaning  is  literal,  moral,  and 
spiritual  (allegorical) . 

Some  of  the  difficulties  which  Origen  finds 
in  the  Gospels  are  rather  naive.  He  claims  that 
several  of  the  Lord's  commandments  are  impos- 
sible to  obey,  and  gives  as  examples  the  admo- 
nitions to  salute  no  one  on  the  road  (Luke 
10:4),  to  turn  the  other  cheek  (Matt.  5:39), 
and  to  pluck  out  the  right  eye  (Matt.  5:29). 
How  can  you  tell  which  eye  offended?  20  At  the 
same  time,  he  is  not  always  true  to  his  own 
principles.  He  insists  on  the  historicity  of  the 
story  of  the  witch  of  Endor  (I  Sam.  28) ,  and 

IT  Miscellanies  VII.    11.    60.    3-4;    Claude   Mond&ert, 
CMment  d'Alexandrie  (Paris:  Aubier,  1944),  p.  110. 
«  IV.  2.  9. 
"Ibid.,  IV.  3. 1. 
.  3.3. 


relies  on  the  Septuagint,  which  called  her  a 
ventriloquist.  The  story  in  scripture  cannot  be 
false.  Samuel  really  appeared.21  The  reason  for 
his  opponent's  caution  is  that  unless  he  can 
attack  the  veracity  of  the  witch  on  historical 
grounds,  it  will  seem  that  she,  a  demon,  has 
authority  over  the  soul  even  of  a  prophet.  But 
if  Origen  is  not  willing  to  allegorize  this  difficult 
story,  on  what  grounds  can  he  allegorize  other 
stories  which  are  no  more  difficult?  Eustathius 
of  Antioch  was  not  slow  to  point  out  this  incon- 
sistency.22 

The  real  purpose  of  Alexandrian  allegoriza- 
tion was  avoidance  of  the  anthropomorphisms 
of  the  Old  Testament,  which  simple-minded 
Christians  took  literally.  Here  the  aim  of  the 
school  was  twofold.  The  Alexandrians  were 
eager  to  defend  Christianity  from  the  criticisms 
of  its  cultured  despisers.  For  centuries,  philoso- 
phers of  every  school  had  been  pointing  out  the 
non anthropomorphic  character  of  God.  Surely 
Christianity,  the  true  philosophy,  was  in  har- 
mony with  their  teaching.  But  by  presenting 
Christian  theology  in  apologetic  form,  the  Alex- 
andrians actually  altered  its  teaching.  Biblical 
allegorization  was  one  of  the  principal  methods 
of  this  theological  movement. 

The  theological  bias  of  Alexandrian  theology 
was  clear  to  ordinary  Egyptian  Christians,  one 
of  whom  wrote  a  work  called  Refutation  of  the 
Allegorists™  At  the  same  time,  Tertullian  and 
others  like  him  fought  for  the  corporeality  of 
God  in  an  effort  to  avoid  the  excessive  spiritual- 
ization  characteristic  of  Alexandria.  But  the 
most  important  adversaries  of  Origen  and  his 
school  were  the  exegetes  of  Antioch. 

The  school  of  Antioch  was  noted  for  its  literal 
and  grammatical  interpretation  of  the  Bible. 
The  earliest  representative  of  it  whom  we  know 
is  Theophilus,  bishop  of  Antioch  about  180, 
whose  second  and  third  books  dedicated  to  a 
certain  Autolycus  are  full  of  literal  exegesis  of 
the  Old  Testament.  Later  Antiochians  were  ex- 
pert in  the  study  of  Hebrew  or  of  the  Greek 
text  of  the  Old  Testament.  Their  exegesis, 
under  the  influence  of  the  prominent  Jewish 
community  of  the  city,  was  ordinarily  soberly 
literal.  The  great  period  of  the  school  came 
late  in  the  fourth  century,  when  Diodorus  of 
Tarsus  taught  his  pupils,  Theodore  of  Mopsues- 
tia  and  John  Chrysostom  of  Antioch,  later 
metropolitan  of  Constantinople. 

Theodore  was  less  orthodox  and  more  origi- 
nal than  his  master  or  his  fellow  disciple.  And 
it  must  be  admitted  that  where  he  is  original 

21  Albert  Jahn,  Des  h.  Eustathius  .  .  .  Beurtheilung 
des  Ongenes  betreffend  die  Auffassung  der  Wahrsagerin 
(Leipzig:  J.  C.  Hinrichs,  1886),  p.  5. 

**Ibid.,  pp.  21  ff. 

88  Nepos,  in  Eusebius  Church  History  VII.  24.  2. 


no 


ANCIENT  PERIOD 


he  is  usually  wrong;  where  he  is  right  he  simply 
reproduces  the  general  outlook  o£  the  Antioch- 
ian  school.  As  a  whole,  the  school  rejected 
allegorization.  In  commenting  on  Gal.  4:24, 
Theodore  takes  the  opportunity  to  attack 
Origen  for  his  misuse  of  scripture.  He  contrasts 
Origen's  denial  of  the  reality  of  the  events 
described  in  Genesis  with  the  apostle's  use  of 
events  as  examples.  On  Origen's  view,  he  claims, 
the  reality  of  the  fall  of  man  is  denied,  and  so  is 
the  reality  of  redemption.  Paul,  on  the  other 
hand,  interpreted  all  these  events  as  historical. 
Theodore  also  wrote  five  books  "On  Allegory 
and  History  Against  Origen."  These  are  lost,  as 
is  the  work  of  Diodorus  called  "What  Is  the 
Difference  Between  Theory  and  Allegory?"  (By 
"theory"  the  school  of  Antioch  meant  the  gen- 
uine meaning  of  the  text.) 

To  the  Alexandrians  the  literal  meaning  of  a 
text  did  not  include  its  metaphorical  meaning. 
The  literal  meaning  of  "the  arm  of  God"  is  that 
God  really  has  an  arm.  Such  an  interpretation 
is  an  example  of  what  Whitehead  has  called 
"misplaced  concretion."  The  Alexandrians  used 
this  concretion  as  a  means  for  introducing  their 
own  theological  views.  At  Antioch,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  meaning  of  a  passage,  its  "theory," 
included  both  metaphor  and  simple  statement. 
Obviously  their  analysis  is  the  more  natural  of 
the  two.  The  literal  meaning  of  scripture  cannot 
exclude  metaphor.  It  is  to  Theodore's  credit 
that  he  insisted  on  this  position.  In  his  view 

every  passage  of  the  Bible  is  provided  with  a 
literal  meaning,  whether  proper  or  metaphorical. 
To  deny  this  would  be  to  suppose  that  the  Holy 
Spirit  would  sometimes  have  spoken  in  order  to  say 
nothing.  .  .  .  Consequently,  according  to  Theodore, 
all  the  biblical  narratives,  all  the  laws,  even  the 
ceremonial  laws,  must  be  interpreted  in  their  simple 
literal  meaning.24 

With  a  similar  emphasis  on  literalism,  Theodore 
declared  that  most  of  the  prophecies  of  the  Old 
Testament  had  a  reference  to  future  events 
within  Jewish  history,  and  not  to  Christ.  Only 
Pss.  2;  8;  45;  110  are  psalms  which  predicted 
Christ. 

Theodore's  actual  results  in  exegesis  are  not 
so  different  from  those  of  the  Origenists  as  one 
might  expect.  One  reason  for  this  similarity  is 
to  be  found  in  the  fact  that  typology,  which  he 
frequently  employs,  is  not  entirely  unlike  alle- 
gorization. Again,  he  constantly  stresses  the 
metaphorical  meaning  of  passages  of  scripture, 
while  continuing  to  regard  this  meaning  as 
literal.  At  the  same  time,  his  use  of  genuine 
allegorization  is  extremely  limited. 

a*  Louis  Pirot,  L'oeuvre  exdgdtique  de  Theodore  de 
Mopsueste  (Rome:  Pontifical  Instituti  BibHci,  1913),  p. 
180. 


Chrysostom,  on  the  other  hand,  as  a  popular 
preacher,  feels  more  free  to  interpret  the  Bible 
allegorically.  He  too  avoids  the  excesses  of 
Alexandria. 

We  are  not  irresponsible  exponents  of  the  laws  on 
this  matter,  but  may  only  apply  the  system  of 
allegorical  interpretation  when  we  are  following 
the  mind  of  Scripture.  .  .  .  And  this  is  the  universal 
law  of  Scripture  when  it  speaks  in  allegories,  viz., 
to  supply  the  interpretation  of  the  allegory.25 

But  Chrysostom  does  not  propose  to  employ  a 
simple  literalism: 

We  must  not  examine  the  words  as  bare  words, 
else  many  absurdities  will  follow,  but  we  must 
mark  the  mind  of  the  writer.28 

Thus  he  endeavors  to  steer  a  middle  course  be- 
tween the  fancies  of  allegorists  and  the  absurdi- 
ties of  simple  literalists.  He  lays  emphasis  on  the 
metaphorical  language  of  scripture. 

In  this  connection  it  may  be  appropriate  to 
refute  a  dictum  of  Cardinal  Newman.  In 
discussing  his  theory  of  development  in  Chris- 
tian thought,  Newman  said,  "It  may  be  almost 
laid  down  as  an  historical  fact  that  the  mystical 
interpretation  and  orthodoxy  will  stand  or  fall 
together."  But  the  Alexandrians  were  led  astray 
by  their  exegetical  method  quite  as  often  as  the 
Antiochians.  The  second-century  Gnostics  were 
ardent  allegorizers.  The  fathers  of  Antioch,  on 
the  other  hand,  had  a  sounder  understanding 
of  the  Bible  than  most  of  their  rivals. 

F.  Jerome  and  Augustine 

The  greatest  exegete  of  the  ancient  church, 
Jerome,  derived  much  of  his  method  from  Anti- 
ochian  sources.27  Jerome's  most  important  ac- 
complishment, the  translation  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment from  Hebrew  into  Latin,  testifies  to  the 
interest  in  the  original  text  which  he  shared 
with  the  school  of  Antioch.  Like  the  Antioch- 
ians, he  was  vigorously  attacked.  Augustine,  for 
example,  regarded  the  Septuagint  as  inspired 
and  authoritative,  and  viewed  Jerome's  work 
as  mistaken.  Eventually  the  new  version  won  its 
way,  however,  and  for  centuries  it  was  the  only 
translation  authorized  by  the  Roman  church. 
Most  new  versions  are  opposed  by  backward- 
looking  Christians,  but  few  are  greeted  with  the 
abuse  which  the  Vulgate  at  first  encountered. 
Jerome  was  called  a  forger  and  a  betrayer  of  his 
religion. 

Jerome's  development  as  an  interpreter  of 
scripture  is  of  considerable  interest,  for  origi- 

«8  F.  H.  Chase,  Chrysostom  (Cambridge:  D  eight  on, 
Bell,  &  Co.,  1887),  p.  61. 

2«  Ibtd  ,  p.  157. 

STA.  Vaccari,  "I  Fattori  Delia  Esegesi  Geronimiana," 
Biblica,  I  (1920),  457-80. 


Ill 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


nally  he  was  a  convinced  Origemst.  His  first 
exegetical  work,  a  commentary  on  Obadiah,  was 
thoroughly  allegorical.  Later,  however,  when 
he  studied  Hebrew  and  lived  in  Palestine,  he 
came  under  the  influence  of  Jewish  teachers  and 
of  the  school  of  Antioch,  and  he  turned  to  a 
more  sober  and  literal  exegetical  method.  This 
change  was  also  due  in  large  measure  to  the 
concentration  on  the  text  of  scripture  which  his 
work  of  translation  required.  In  his  later  writ- 
ings he  constantly  insisted  on  the  "Hebrew 
truth"  of  the  Old  Testament,  although  with  the 
Antiochians  he  held  that  there  were  spiritual 
and  typological  meanings  which  his  Jewish  op- 
ponents failed  to  understand.  He  believed  that 
a  bare  literalism  was  barren.  At  the  same  time, 
he  refused  to  interpret  the  Bible  against  the 
letter.  "There  are  many  things  in  scripture 
which  sound  incredible  and  yet  are  true."  a8 

When  historical  questions  came  to  his  atten- 
tion, he  was  not  remarkably  at  ease  in  handling 
them.  The  most  striking  instance  of  this  diffi- 
culty is  to  be  found  in  his  correspondence  with 
Augustine  over  the  dispute  between  Peter  and 
Paul  at  Antioch.29  Following  Origen,  Jerome 
held  that  Peter  and  Paul  had  simply  staged  a 
dispute  in  order  to  give  dramatic  proof  to  Gen- 
tile Christians  that  the  law  had  been  abolished. 
If  Paul  ever  observed  the  law,  it  was  merely  for 
convention's  sake.  A  lengthy  controversy  arose 
when  Augustine  declared  that  such  a  staged 
dispute  would  have  been  dishonest.  Historical 
criticism  was  rare  in  the  ancient  church,30  and 
neither  of  the  fathers  should  be  blamed  too 
severely  for  lack  of  interest  in  something  they 
considered  irrelevant. 

There  is  a  considerable  difference  between 
Jerome  and  his  contemporary,  Augustine,  as  far 
as  attitude  to  the  interpretation  of  scripture  is 
concerned.  Jerome  is  a  scholar,  and  while  his 
outlook  lacks  the  range  of  Augustine,  he  is 
ordinarily  more  accurate  in  matters  of  detail. 
Augustine,  on  the  other  hand,  is  a  theologian, 
and  in  his  comments  on  the  meaning  of  the 
Bible  there  is  greater  depth  and  religious  in- 
sight than  in  those  of  Jerome.  On  questions 
such  as  the  correctness  of  the  new  translation  of 
the  Old  Testament,  Jerome's  judgment  is  su- 
perior. In  general,  Augustine  goes  to  the  heart 
of  scripture.  He  takes  account  of  critical  prob- 
lems but  does  not  consider  them  all-important.81 

»  Letters  LXXII. 

a6  J.  Schmid,  SS  Eusebii  Hieronymi  et  Awelii  Angus- 
tint  Eptstulae  Mutuae  (Bonn:  P.  Haustein,  1930},  pp. 
14  ff. 

80  See  Robert  M.  Grant,  "Historical  Criticism  in  the 
Ancient    Church,"   Journal   of   Religion,   XXV    (1945) 
183-96. 

81  A.     A.     Gilmore,     "Augustine     and     the     Critical 
Method,"  Harvard  Theological  Review,  XXXIX  (1946), 
141-64.  ' 


Augustine's  entire  early  career  may  be  re- 
garded as  a  search  for  a  tenable  exegetical 
method.  Only  when  he  discovered  and  accepted 
allegorization,  under  the  guidance  of  Ambrose, 
was  he  able  to  enter  into  traditional  Christian- 
ity. Before  that  time  he  was  a  halfhearted 
Manichaean.  Like  Marcion,  his  Manichaean 
teachers  insisted  on  a  literal  interpretation  of 
the  Old  Testament  in  order  to  prove  its  ab- 
surdity. They  emphasized  anthropomorphic  ex- 
pressions in  order  to  ask  ironically  whether  God 
has  hair  and  nails.  They  criticized  the  morality 
of  the  patriarchs.  As  for  the  New  Testament, 
they  again  followed  Marcion  in  their  claim  that 
the  text  had  been  interpolated  by  Judaizers.82 
Augustine  began  to  suspect  their  veracity  when 
they  proved  unable  to  provide  a  copy  of  the 
original,  genuine  text  But  Old  Testament  prob- 
lems continued  to  disturb  him.  Only  the  ser- 
mons of  Ambrose  of  Milan  were  able  to  bring 
him  to  a  fresh  view  of  the  Old  Testament.  Am- 
brose constantly  quoted  II  Cor.  3:6;  "The 
letter  kills,  but  the  spirit  gives  life."  This  justi- 
fication of  the  allegorical  method  was  not  in- 
tended by  Paul,  who  was  discussing  the  law  of 
Moses  as  contrasted  with  the  free  Spirit  of  God. 
But  the  exegesis  of  Ambrose  made  Christian 
faith  possible  for  Augustine. 

Once  within  the  church,  Augustine  believed 
that  he  ought  to  set  down  the  principles  of  an 
exegesis  which  would  be  at  the  same  time  schol- 
arly and  also  centered  in  theology.  In  the  year 
397  he  composed  most  of  his  Christian  Doctrine. 
This  work  is  an  attempt  not  only  to  insist  on 
the  importance  of  sound  learning  for  the  inter- 
preter, but  also  to  stress  the  primacy  of  a  single 
theological  principle  running  throughout  scrip- 
ture: 

Whoever  seems  to  himself  to  have  understood  the 
divine  Scriptures  in  such  a  way  that  he  does  not 
build  up  that  double  love  of  God  and  neighbor, 
has  not  yet  understood.83 

This  is  the  fundamental  principle.  If  there 
remain  unsolved  questions  of  exegesis,  the  inter- 
preter is  to  consult  the  rule  of  faith,  the  ortho- 
dox teaching  of  the  church,  as  well  as  the  con- 
text of  scripture.  He  must  also  beware  of  taking 
figurative  language  literally,  or  literal  language 
figuratively.  The  authors  of  scripture  made  use 
of  all  the  rhetorical  forms  known  to  grammari- 
ans. 

In  his  The  Harmony  of  the  Gospels  Augus- 
tine makes  a  suggestion  to  explain  the  differ- 
ences in  the  order  of  events  in  the  Gospels. 
This  suggestion,  if  consistently  applied,  would 
have  undermined  the  ancient  theory  of  verbal 
inerrancy.  The  reason  for  the  differences,  he 
82  Augustine  Confessions  III.  7;  V.  11. 

"  I.  36. 


112 


ANCIENT  PERIOD 


&ays,  is  to  be  found  in  the  nature  of  memory. 
What  comes  into  our  mind  is  not  what  we  will, 
but  as  it  is  given.  Therefore  each  evangelist 
gives  the  events  in  the  order  which  God  desired 
for  him;  these  orders  need  not  be  the  same.84 
Obviously,  then,  we  cannot  tell — and  we  should 
not  try  to  tell — which  order  is  the  historical 
order  of  events.  Augustine's  entire  book  shows 
how  little  he,  or  the  ancient  church  generally, 
was  interested  in  historical  questions. 

With  Jerome  and  Augustine  the  history  of 
interpretation  in  the  ancient  church  really 
comes  to  an  end.  Jerome  makes  use  of  the  in- 
sights of  the  school  of  Antioch,  combines  them 
with  his  own  phenomenal  learning,  and  pro- 
duces the  Vulgate.  In  this  translation  are 
summed  up  the  achievements  of  the  Antiochian 
fathers.  Augustine,  on  the  other  hand,  modifies 
the  allegorical  method  of  Alexandria  while 
retaining  its  fundamental  point  of  view  and  its 
emphasis  on  systematic  theology.  Both  Jerome 
and  Augustine,  writing  in  Latin,  point  the  way 
forward  to  the  Middle  Ages.  But  ancient  exe- 
gesis had  not  come  to  a  full  stop.  There  re- 
mained the  task  of  assimilation. 

VI.  Handbooks 

In  the  third  book  of  his  Christian  Doctrine, 
Augustine  makes  use  of  a  book  of  seven  rules 
composed  by  a  certain  Tyconius.  The  rules  are 
intended  to  cover  every  situation  in  which  an 
allegorical  interpretation  might  seem  to  be  de- 
manded. Like  their  contemporary  Jewish  equiv- 
alents (e.g.,  the  thirty-two  rules  of  Rabbi  Eliezer, 
son  of  Rabbi  Jose) ,  they  are  rather  far-fetched. 
Their  chief  purpose  is  to  give  some  rational 
ground  for  allegorization.  Thus  the  first  rule, 
"Of  the  Lord  and  his  body/'  shows  that  often 
in  scripture  what  is  said  of  Christ  applies  also 
to  his  body,  the  church.  Another  rule,  "Of 
times,"  is  really  an  attempt  to  solve  difficulties 
without  recourse  to  criticism.  If  one  Gospel  says 
the  Transfiguration  was  eight  days  after  the 
scene  at  Caesarea  Philippi,  while  another  says 
it  was  six,  the  difference  can  easily  be  explained. 
The  first  gives  the  whole  period  of  time,  while 
the  second  gives  only  a  part.  The  same  rule 
takes  care  of  the  difference  between  "on  the 
third  day"  and  "after  three  days"  in  the  resur- 
rection narratives.  Another  rule,  "On  recapitu- 
lation," provides  the  traditional  explanation 
of  the  double  account  of  creation  in  the  book 
of  Genesis. 

Perhaps  the  most  interesting  feature  about 
these  rules  lies  not  in  the  rules  themselves,  but 
in  the  fact  that  Augustine  thought  it  worth 
while  to  use  them.  As  the  great  period  of  ancient 
exegesis  draws  to  its  close,  biblical  interpreta- 
tion, like  other  manifestations  of  intellectual 


»*  II.  21. 


life,  is  becoming  more  and  more  stereotyped.  It 
is  becoming  fixed  in  rules.  To  be  sure,  the  works 
of  the  great  commentators  like  Origen  are  pre- 
served, but  most  interpreters  read  them  in 
"catenas/'  chains  of  exegetical  materials  in  cap- 
sule form.36  The  freshness  of  early  exegesis  has 
gone.  Theodore  of  Mopsuestia  is  condemned 
not  so  much  for  being  wrong  as  for  being  orig- 
inal. It  is  noteworthy  that  his  commentaries 
survived  only  in  the  Syriac  language  and  in 
Latin  under  the  name  of  Ambrose. 

Through  manuals  of  interpretation,  perhaps 
more  than  in  any  other  way,  the  exegetical  out- 
look of  antiquity  was  able  to  influence  the 
thought  of  the  medieval  church.  When  Cassi- 
odorus  in  the  sixth  century  compiled  an  intro- 
duction to  sacred  studies,  he  recommended  five 
earlier  writers.  They  were  Tyconius,  Augustine 
(Christian  Doctrine),  Adrian,  Eucherius,  and 
Junilius.88  Augustine  and  Tyconius  have  al- 
ready been  mentioned.  Let  us  now  consider  the 
last  three  names. 

Eucherius  of  Lyons,  who  died  about  450, 
wrote  a  handbook  on  the  interpretation  of 
scripture  which  summed  up  for  the  Western 
church  the  methods  of  Origen  without  his  the- 
ological acumen.  This  book  was  called  Rules 
for  Allegorical  Interpretation.  Eucherius  begins 
with  an  introduction  in  which  he  sets  forth  his 
theory  of  exegesis.  First  he  proves  the  existence 
of  symbolic  language  in  scripture.  Next  he 
justifies  its  existence  by  the  necessity  of  keeping 
pearls  from  swine;  for  this  reason  anthropomor- 
phisms are  found  in  the  Bible.  He  finds  a  three- 
fold meaning  in  scripture:  historical,  tropologi- 
cal,  and  anagogical.  This  division,  found  in 
various  forms  as  early  as  Origen,  is  sometimes 
made  fourfold,  as  Eucherius  says,  by  the  addi- 
tion of  allegory.37  "Tropology"  involves  a  moral 
meaning,  while  the  "anagogical"  refers  to  a 
secret  and  heavenly  meaning.  As  an  example, 
he  offers  "And  the  waters  which  are  above  the 
heavens  shall  praise  the  name  of  the  Lord" 
(Ps.  148:4) .  "Heaven"  historically  or  literally 
means  the  sky,  tropologically,  heavenly  life; 
"waters"  allegorically  mean  baptism,  anagogi- 
cally,  the  angels.  Most  of  Eucherius'  work  is 
devoted  to  explaining  away  anthropomorphic 
expressions  and  to  giving  the  allegorical  mean- 
ing of  animals  and  forces  of  nature  in  the  Bible. 
He  is  perhaps  farthest  from  reality  in  his  last 
chapter,  on  numbers.  But  the  text  of  his  work 
as  printed  in  Migne  has  been  interpolated  by 

85  See  G.  Heinrici,  "Catenae,"  New  Schaff-Herzog  En- 
cyclopedia of  Religious  Knowledge  (New  York:  Funk  & 
Wagnalls,  1908),  II,  451-53. 

*8  Institutiones  I.  10. 

87  Corpus  Scriptorum  Ecclesiasticorum  Latinorum, 
XXXI,  5.  See  Ernst  von  Dobschutz,  "Vom  vierfadien 
Schriftsinn,"  in  Harnack-Ehrung  (Leipzig:  J.  C.  Hinrichs, 
1921),  pp.  MS. 


113 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


ingenious  number-allegorists  of  later  times.  His 
own  work,  recovered  by  Wotke,  does  not  do 
much  more  than  give  biblical  examples  of  the 
use  of  some  numbers  between  one  and  one 
hundred. 

The  two  other  handbooks  reflect  not  the 
school  of  Alexandria,  but  that  of  Antioch.  The 
Introduction  to  the  Sacred  Scriptures  of  Adrian 
seems  to  have  been  written  shortly  before 
Eucherius*  work,38  It  is  divided  into  three  parts 
because  there  are  three  characteristics  of  He- 
brew expressions,  based  on  meaning,  phrase- 
ology, and  composition.  "Meaning"  involves  the 
problem  of  anthropomorphisms;  "phraseology" 
is  concerned  with  metaphorical  expressions  and 
explains  them  in  terms  of  biblical  usage;  "com- 
position" considers  rhetorical  forms  in  relation 
to  the  interpretation  of  scripture.  Adrian  con- 
cludes his  work  with  a  brief  general  discussion 
of  holy  scripture  and  interpretation.  In  this  the 
influence  of  the  school  of  Antioch  is  clear.  He 
states  that  there  are  two  forms  in  the  divine 
scripture:  prophetical  and  historical.  Each  of 
these  deals  with  past,  present,  and  future.  While 
literal  exegesis  is  primary,  we  must  go  farther, 
beyond  the  mere  unsymbolical  analysis  of  the 
letters.  Like  other  Antiochians,  Adrian  is  not 
content  with  simple  literalism.  He  stands  close 
to  Chrysostom. 

Finally  we  have  the  Rules  for  the  Divine  Law 
of  Junilius  Africanus,  written  about  550,  in 
which  the  peculiar  ideas  of  Theodore  of 
Mopsuestia  concerning  the  canon  of  the  Bible 
are  combined  with  a  systematic  treatment  of 
exegesis.  This  analysis  is  made  on  the  basis  of 
the  Aristotelian  rhetoric  which  flourished  in 
sixth-century  Syria.  Junilius  nods  in  passing  to 
the  Augustinian  principle  of  love  of  God  and 
neighbor,  but  he  makes  little  use  of  it.  His 
rules  were  widely  influential  in  the  early  Middle 
Ages.88  At  the  end  of  his  work  he  sets  forth  an 
Aristotelian  principle  which  doubtless  made  his 
theories  palatable  to  scholastic-minded  Chris- 
tians. After  proving  the  divine  inspiration  of 
scripture  from  the  truth  and  consistency  of  the 

"Friedrich  Goessling,  Adrians  EIIAfnrH  Ell  TAI 
9EIAZ  TPA0AI  (Berlin:  H.  Reuther,  1887),  p.  13. 

»9  Heinrich  Kihn,  Theodor  von  Mopsuestia  und  Junil- 
ius Africanus  als  Exegeten  (Freiburg  im  Breisgau: 
Herder,  1880),  pp.  302  ff. 


Bible,  he  finds  that  he  has  left  little  place  for 
faith.  The  reason  for  this  is  that  our  religion  is 
superrational,  but  not  irrational:  "What  reason 
teaches,  faith  understands,  and  where  reason 
fails,  faith  leads  the  way."  Faith  and  reason  are 
never  opposed  to  each  other.  The  separation  of 
exegesis  from  theology  has  begun. 

The  study  of  the  interpretation  of  the  Bible 
in  the  ancient  church  is  a  vast  field.  We  have 
skimmed  the  surface,  but  enough  has  been  said 
to  make  plain  the  fact  that  the  problems  of 
ancient  interpreters  were  much  like  our  own. 
The  debate  between  Alexandria  and  Antioch 
is  a  perennial  one,  now  to  some  extent  by-passed 
by  the  idea  of  development  within  biblical 
thought,  but  never  entirely  settled.  Yet  at  the 
end  of  antiquity  little  fresh  investigation  of  the 
meaning  of  scripture  was  being  made.  Inter- 
preters were  content  to  regard  themselves  as 
dwarfs  on  the  shoulders  of  giants,  and  to  seek 
all  their  inspiration  in  the  past.  The  vigor  and 
originality  of  Origen  or  Theodore  of  Mopsues- 
tia had  been  lost;  the  authoritarianism  of  Vin- 
cent of  Lerins  had  taken  its  place.  Even  Augus- 
tine felt  that  toward  the  end  of  his  life  he  ought 
to  publish  New  Treatments  of  any  points, 
exegetical  or  theological,  in  which  he  might 
have  slipped  into  heterodoxy.  Satisfactory  exe- 
gesis could  not  be  carried  on  in  such  an  atmos- 
phere. 

At  the  same  time,  enough  of  the  exegetical 
work  of  the  earlier  fathers  was  preserved  so  that 
their  disagreements  could  be  seen.  There  was 
almost  no  exegetical  point  on  which  they 
unanimously  agreed.  And  this  measure  of  differ- 
ence helped,  when  learning  once  more  flour- 
ished, to  keep  the  interpretation  of  the  Bible 
alive.  In  the  writings  of  the  fathers  we  find  no 
enduring  exegetical  method.  We  find  attempts 
to  solve  difficulties  by  means  of  the  best  tools 
available.  But  the  fathers  rarely  if  ever  con- 
sidered the  possibility  that  a  passage  of  scrip- 
ture meant  something  different  to  its  writer 
from  what  it  meant  in  their  own  day.  For  this 
reason  the  tools  employed  by  the  fathers  are 
not  those  which  later  interpreters  were  to  find 
most  useful.*0 

*°  A  selected  bibliography  on  the  history  of  biblical 
interpretation  will  be  found  on  p.  141.  Editors. 


114 


HISTORY  OF  THE  INTERPRETATION 

OF  THE  BIBLE 

II.    MEDIEVAL  AND   REFORMATION   PERIOD 

by  JOHN  T.  McNEiLL 


I.  The  Middle  Ages 

A.  The  Period  of  Gregory  and  Bede 

B.  Development  of  Allegory 

C.  Toward  a  More  Historical  Exegesis 

D.  Tension  Between  History  and  Allegory 

E.  The  Scholastic  Age 

F.  Rashi  and  Nicholas  of  Lyra 

The  purpose  of  this  article  is  to  mark  a  few 
guideposts  on  the  course  of  Bible  interpretation 
through  the  centuries  from  Vincent  of  L&rins 
to  Luther  and  Calvin  and  their  contemporaries. 
The  conception  of  the  Bible  as  holy  writ,  resting 
upon  divine  authority,  and  entirely  distinct 
from  other  human  writings,  had  been  increas- 
ingly affirmed  from  the  second  century  to  the 
fifth.  The  canon  of  Scripture  was  defined  in 
controversy  with  Gnostics  who  were  inventing 
their  own  scriptures.  The  process  involved  for 
the  Catholic  church  the  assertion  of  the  prin- 
ciple of  tradition  as  the  basis  of  selection  of 
authoritative  books.  As  the  test  of  canonicity, 
tradition  tended  to  assume  an  authority  supe- 
rior to  that  of  Scripture  itself.  But  once  the 
canon  was  established,  the  accepted  books  weie 
held  in  peculiar  reverence,  and  the  balance  of 
authority  between  the  Scripture  and  tradition 
seems  to  have  been  in  some  degree  altered  in 
favor  of  the  former.  During  the  decade  that  fol- 
lowed the  death  of  Augustine  (430),  Vincent 
of  Le*rins  in  his  Commonitorium  (434)  asserted 
the  primacy  of  Scripture,  but  stressed  the  neces- 
sity of  interpreting  it  in  accordance  with  tradi- 
tion. Vincent  would  defend  the  church  against 
heretics  and  fortify  Christian  faith,  "first,  by 
the  authority  of  the  divine  law  [Scripture], 
and  secondly  by  the  tradition  of  the  Catholic 
church,"  The  canonical  Scriptures  are  admit- 
tedly "sufficient  for  everything,"  but  they  are 
variously  misinterpreted.  He  therefore  holds  it 


II.  The  Reformation 

A.  Martin  Luther 

B.  John  Calvin 

C.  Other  Reformation  Interpreters 


urgently  necessary  "that  the  rule  of  interpreta- 
tion of  the  Prophets  and  Apostles  be  laid  down 
in  accordance  with  the  norm  of  ecclesiastical 
and  Catholic  understanding  [sensus]"  This  is 
the  position  that  was  to  have  general  adherence 
in  the  medieval  church. 

Already,  then,  the  Bible,  as  delimited  in  the 
canon,  was  fully  recognized  as  the  Book  of  God. 
In  the  language  of  the  church  fathers  it  was  "the 
sacred  writings,"  "the  divine  law,"  "the  sacred 
page,"  "the  word  of  God."  In  accordance  with 
this  conception  it  afforded  the  chief  public 
reading  in  church  and  monastic  services,  and 
the  series  of  lections  for  public  worship  was 
already  substantially  determined.  Furthermore, 
the  Scriptures  furnished  the  principal  inspira- 
tion of  those  Christians  who  seriously  engaged 
in  the  cultivation  of  their  own  personal  piety. 
Searching  the  Scriptures  for  edification  became 
a  feature  of  life  in  the  early  monastic  communi- 
ties. The  lectio  divina  (divine  reading)  was  a 
common  exercise  of  monks  before  and  after 
Benedict.  It  involved  an  intensive  devotion  to 
the  study  of  Scripture.  The  Rule  of  Benedict 
itself,  almost  from  beginning  to  end,  offers 
remarkable  evidence  of  the  functioning  of 
scriptural  knowledge  and  suggestion  in  the 
monastic  mind.  In  his  last  chapter  Benedict 
speaks  depreciatively  of  what  he  has  written  by 
comparison  with  the  Scriptures  and  the  fathers 
and  monastic  writers;  and  here  he  asks  rhetor- 
ically: "For  what  page  or  what  word  of  divine 


115 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


authority  o£  the  Old  and  the  New  Testament 
is  not  a  perfect  norm  [rectissima  nor  ma]  of 
human  life?" 

Benedict's  use  of  scripture  passages  is  direct 
and  practical.  It  is  noteworthy  that  he  does  not 
follow  his  master  and  Vincent's  contemporary, 
John  Cassian,  in  utilizing  allegorical  or  other 
nonliteral  senses.  Cassian,  explaining  the  true 
meaning  of  scripture,  had  compared  the  spir- 
itual sense  with  the  literal  by  reference  to  the 
son  of  the  free  woman  and  of  the  bondwoman 
in  the  Abraham  story,  and  to  the  "double  gar- 
ments" referred  to  in  the  Vulgate  rendering  of 
Prov.  31:21.  Cassian  also  subdivided  the  spiritual 
interpretation  much  in  the  fashion  of  medieval 
writers.  From  I  Cor.  14:6,  "What  shall  it  profit 
except  I  speak  either  by  revelation  or  by  knowl- 
edge or  by  prophecy  or  by  doctrine,"  he  deduces 
the  four  senses,  allegorical,  tropological,  ana- 
gogical,  and  historical.1  There  are,  of  course 
many  passages  in  Cassian  which  employ  simply 
the  historical  or  literal  sense  in  the  manner  of 
Benedict.  In  a  well-known  epigram  Gregory 
the  Great  commends  Benedict's  lack  of  school- 
ing. In  using  the  Bible  for  simple  direction  the 
good  abbot  may  have  been  unaware  that  his 
writing  favored  the  Aristotelian  Antiochian 
literal  interpreters  against  the  Platonic-Philonic 
Alexandrian  allegorists. 

/.  The  Middle  Ages 

A.  The  Period  of  Gregory  and  Bede. — The 

allegorists,  to  be  sure,  had  not  carried  all  before 
them  in  the  ancient  church,  and  though  allegory 
flourished  in  most  of  the  medieval  Latin  com- 
mentaries, it  was,  as  we  shall  see,  frequently 
criticized  and  sometimes  completely  abandoned. 
Moreover,  a  change  was  coming  over  the  spirit 
of  interpretation  as  the  institutions  and  doc- 
trines of  the  church  became  more  rigid.  Allegory 
would  no  longer  be  used  with  the  originality 
and  ecclesiastically  dangerous  freedom  that 
marked  some  passages  of  Origen  and  even  of 
Ambrose,  but  rather,  in  the  spirit  of  Vincent's 
canon,  under  the  governing  idea  of  the  ecclesi- 
astical tradition.  This  tradition  was  now  en- 
shrined mainly  in  the  writings  of  the  fathers. 
Through  the  period  of  Gregory  the  Great  and 
the  Venerable  Bede  some  measure  of  originality 
and  independence  remains.  Thereafter,  for  six 
or  seven  centuries,  the  dominant  type  of  biblical 
interpretation  rested  upon  direct  or  indirect 
quotation  of  the  patristic  literature  and  was 
equally  dependent  and  repetitious.  In  some 
quarters,  however,  freedom  and  originality 
were  not  wanting. 
Gregory  the  Great  lent  his  influence  to  the 

1  Conferences  XIV.  8.  Corpus  Scriptorum  Ecclesias- 
ticorum  Latinorum,  XIII,  ii,  pp.  404  ff,  See  above,  p. 
113  and  below,  p.  131, 


side  of  the  spiritual  as  opposed  to  the  literal 
exegesis.  Five  centuries  after  him  Guibert  de 
Nogent  found  in  Gregory's  writings  "the  keys 
to  this  art,"  that  is,  the  art  of  expounding 
spiritual  senses.  "Allegory,"  says  Gregory,  ex- 
pounding the  Song  of  Songs,  "makes  a  kind  of 
machine  for  the  soul  far  off  from  God  by  which 
it  may  be  raised  up  to  him."  a  His  use  of  the 
method  may  be  illustrated  from  the  MoraUa, 
his  lectures  on  the  book  of  Job.  In  the  dedica- 
tory epistle  to  Leander  which  precedes  this 
work,  he  states  that  he  is  responding  to  the 
request 

that  I  would  not  only  expound  the  words  of  the 
history  in  allegorical  senses,  but  that  I  would  direct 
the  sense  of  the  allegories  into  an  exercise  in  mo- 
rality, adding  to  this  something  more  difficult,  that 
I  would  surround  the  several  meanings  with  testi- 
monies and  that  the  testimonies  presented,  if  per- 
chance they  should  seem  involved,  should  be  un- 
tangled by  the  insertion  of  additional  expositions.8 

In  the  preface  to  this  work  Gregory  gives  us  his 
high  conception  of  the  authorship  of  scripture. 
He  refuses  to  become  involved  in  an  investiga- 
tion of  the  human  authorship  of  the  book  of 
Job,  since  it  is  the  work  not  of  a  man,  but  of 
the  Holy  Spirit: 

But  who  was  the  writer,  it  is  utterly  useless  to 
ask;  since  at  any  rate  the  Holy  Spirit  is  trustworthily 
believed  to  have  been  the  Author  of  the  book.  He, 
therefore,  who  dictated  the  things  to  be  written, 
himself  wrote  them.  He  himself  wrote  them  who 
was  both  the  Inspirer  in  that  writer's  work,  and  by 
the  utterance  of  the  writer  has  passed  on  to  us  his 
acts  for  our  imitation.  If  we  were  reading  the  words 
of  some  great  man  whose  letters  we  had  received, 
yet  were  to  ask  by  what  pen  they  had  been  written, 
it  would  truly  be  ridiculous,  to  know  the  author  of 
the  epistles  and  understand  his  meaning,  and  yet  to 
make  search  to  know  with  what  sort  of  pen  the 
words  were  set  down.  Thus  when  we  understand 
the  matter,  and  hold  that  the  Holy  Spirit  was  its 
Author,  in  seeking  out  the  writer,  what  else  are  we 
doing  than  in  reading  a  letter  to  inquire  about  the 
pen?* 

We  are  soon  plunged  into  a  maze  of  Gregory's 
spiritual  expositions.  We  learn  that  the  three 
friends  of  Job  are  the  heretics,  and  that  when 
they  come  to  Job,  they  are  returning  to  holy 
church;  Job  himself  maintains  a  semblance  to 
the  Redeemer  to  come.  His  name  means  "griev- 
ing," a  forecast  of  the  Mediator's  passion  and  of 
the  travails  and  afflictions  of  holy  church  in 
this  life.  Job's  seven  thousand  sheep  are  in- 
nocent thoughts;  the  three  thousand  camels  are 

2  Exposition  of  the  Song  of  Songs.  Prologue,  2.  Jacques 
P  Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  LXXIX,  473. 

3  Migne,  op.  cit.f  J,XXV,  512, 
4/fcfU,  517, 


116 


MEDIEVAL  AND  REFORMATION  PERIOD 


high  and  vain  notions;  the  five  hundred  oxen 
are  virtues,  and  the  five  hundred  she-asses  arc 
wanton  inclinations.  In  the  words  of  Job,  "My 
sighing  cometh  before  I  eat,"  we  see  the  groan- 
ing of  sorrow  before  the  gladness  of  contempla- 
tion. Arcturus,  Orion,  the  Pleiades,  and  the 
chambers  of  the  south  in  Job  9:9  represent 
respectively  the  church,  the  martyrs,  the  doctors, 
and  the  Holy  Spirit.  One  might  go  on  enumer- 
ating countless  instances  of  what  seems  a  need- 
less insistence  upon  the  items  of  ecclesiastical 
life,  and  in  some  cases  sheer  wresting  of  scrip- 
ture meanings;  but  there  is  no  doubt  of  the 
deep  sincerity  of  the  author's  mind  in  these 
matters.  He  was  not  merely  indulging  a  way- 
ward imagination.  Like  other  serious  allegorists, 
he  is  deeply  concerned  for  the  reader's  ethical 
and  spiritual  enrichment  and  the  support  of  the 
orthodox  faith.  He  is  never  far  from  the  de- 
mands of  practical  piety.  "What,"  he  asks,  "are 
the  sayings  of  truth  if  we  do  not  take  them  as 
food  for  the  nourishment  of  the  soul?" 

The  dogmatic  control  of  the  spiritual  senses 
of  scripture  was  to  be  more  fully  developed  in 
later  times.  It  would  result  in  a  long  series  of 
scripture  commentaries  which  contain  extended 
catenae  of  quotations  from  accepted  church 
fathers.  The  Venerable  Bede  is  one  of  the  first 
to  profess  in  his  interpretations  a  substantial 
dependence  upon  the  fathers.  He  speaks  o£ 
scripture  study  as  medicine  for  the  soul.  In  his 
exegesis  the  purpose  of  edification  is  completely 
dominant.  He  rests  his  Commentary  on  Luke 
upon  the  works  of  Ambrose,  Augustine,  Jerome, 
and  Gregory.  But  while  Bede  patiently  seeks 
out  tradition  as  conveyed  by  these  fathers,  he 
exhibits  also  a  considerable  body  of  independ- 
ent interpretation,  and  at  least  regards  it  as 
legitimate  that  he  should  express  his  own  judg- 
ments. In  the  letter  to  Acca,  bishop  of  Hexham, 
that  accompanies  his  Commentary  on  Luke,  he 
adds  to  his  expression  of  reverence  for  the 
fathers  the  modest  statement: 

A  few  items,  too,  which  (as  I  may  say  in  the 
words  of  your  Holiness)  the  Author  of  Light  dis- 
closed to  me,  I  have  added,  as  seemed  appropriate, 
by  my  own  labor.  Even  though  I  am  not  able  to 
spend  (as  you  yourself  phrased  it)  days  and  sleepless 
nights  in  meditation  on  the  Divine  Law,  yet  I  have 
no  doubt  that  I  have  devoted  myself  to  the  Scrip- 
tures with  no  slight  zeal,  and  that  I  have  been  able 
to  see,  that  is,  to  perceive  and  discern,  not  in  this 
book  alone,  but  in  every  passage,  only  those  things 
which  the  Author  of  Light  deigned  to  show  me.5 

This  sense  of  something  of  the  nature  of  a 
direct  illumination  in  Bede  may  remind  us  of 
the  teaching  of  John  Calvin  regarding  the 

*  Ibid.,  XCII,  305.  H.  H.  Glunz  has  called  attention  to 
this  passage,  and  gives  a  condensed  translation  of  it  in 
History  of  the  Vulgate  in  England  from  Alcuin  to  Roger 


testimony  of  the  Holy  Spirit  enlightening  the 
de\  out  reader.  It  was  from  Ambrose  and  Augus- 
tine that  Bede  derived  his  interpretation  of  the 
parable  of  the  prodigal  son  in  Luke  15.  The 
prodigal  is  worldly  philosophy  which,  unsatis- 
fied, having  deserted  its  true  master,  Christ,  yet 
hungers  after  truth,  while  the  faithful  Christians 
receive  the  bread  of  the  word  in  the  father's 
house,  which  is  identified  with  the  church. 
Glunz  points  out  that  the  Vulgate  text  was 
affected  by  this  type  of  interpretation.  Some 
interpreters,  applying  Alcmn's  realistic  prin- 
ciple substantia  commune  est  nomcn  omnium 
rerum  quae  stint*  felt  that  the  text  itself 
ought  to  contain  a  reference  which  could  be 
directly  used  to  signify  "church,"  and  so  inter- 
polated the  phrase  in  domo  in  the  text  of  Luke 
15:17.  The  father's  "house"  is  the  church  from 
which  the  prodigal  son  has  departed.  Thus 
hermeneutic  presuppositions  were  forcing 
alterations  in  the  text  itself.  Glunz  connects  this 
interpolation  with  the  attention  given  to  the 
interpretations  of  Ambrose  and  Bede  in  the 
school  of  Alcuin,  whose  study  of  the  Bible  marks 
the  beginning  of  the  more  typical  medieval 
exegesis. 

B.  Development  of  Allegory. — Alcuin  repre- 
sents a  type  of  interpretation  which  not  only 
relies  upon  the  fathers  but  sincerely  attempts  to 
restrict  itself  to  patristic  authority.  He  explains 
that  as  physicians  do  not  create  their  medicines 
but  procure  them  from  a  variety  of  sources,  so 
he  proposes  to  use  Augustine,  Ambrose,  Greg- 
ory, Bede,  and  other  holy  fathers.  Originality  is 
confined  to  selection.  He  "wanders  through  the 
blossoming  fields"  of  the  patristic  literature 
with  a  humble  heart  and  a  bowed  head,  and 
culls  passages  in  reliance  upon  his  own  judg- 
ment, being  cautious  to  set  down  nothing  con- 
trary to  the  interpretations  of  the  fathers.7 

Many  followed  Alcuin's  method  of  interpreta- 
tion. Rabanus  Maurus,  his  most  distinguished 
pupil,  searched  the  fathers  with  even  more 
diligence  than  Alcuin,  and  favored  spiritual 
interpretations  calculated  to  support  the  struc- 
ture and  dogma  of  church  tradition.  Thus  the 
four  wheels  of  Ezekiel's  chariot  are  the  Law, 
the  Prophets,  the  Gospels  and  the  Apostles.8  He 

Bacon  (Cambridge:  Cambridge  University  Press,  1933), 
p.  80. 

6  "Substance  is  the  common  name  of  all  the  things 
that  are."  Migne,  op.  cit.f  VI,  418;  cf.  Glunz,  op.  cit., 
pp.  87  ff. 

*  Commentary  on  the  Gospel  of  St.  John,  Migne,  op. 
dt.,  C,  743,  and  Glunz,  op.  cit.,  pp.  81  ff.  Alcuin  was 
deeply  concerned  to  combat  the  prevailing  neglect  of  the 
Scriptures  in  the  schools.  In  797  he  wrote  to  the  church 
of  Canterbury  urging  the  appointment  of  competent 
teadiers,  "lest  the  Word  of  God  be  lacking  among  you." 
"Ignorance  of  Scripture,"  says  Alcuin,  "is  ignorance  of 
God."  Migne,  op.  cit.,  C,  250. 

8  Migne,  op.  cit,,  CX,  525  ff. 


117 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


tells  us  that  the  book  of  Esther  contains  in 
manifold  ways  the  sacraments  of  Christ  and  the 
church.  Esther,  as  typifying  the  church,  frees 
her  people  from  peril;  Haman  stands  for 
iniquitaS;  and  Ahasuerus  is  a  type  of  Christ.0  In 
such  interpretations  the  typology  of  Rabanus  is 
only  remotely  similar  to  that  employed  by  the 
Protestant  reformers:  it  relies  largely  upon 
etymologies,  many  of  which  are  erroneous. 
Rabanus  is,  however,  an  exponent  of  the  four 
senses  of  scripture.  These  are,  he  explains  in 
the  preface  to  his  book  Allegories  on  Holy  Scrip- 
ture, four  daughters  of  one  mother,  Wisdom. 
He  here  refers  to  the  historical  interpretation 
as  milk,  the  allegorical  as  bread,  the  anagogical 
as  savory  nourishment,  and  the  tropological  as 
exhilarating  wine.  Elaborating  numerous  com- 
parisons, he  observes:  "In  the  house  of  our 
soul  history  lays  the  foundation,  allegory  erects 
the  walls,  analogy  sets  on  the  roof,  and  tropol- 
ogy provides  the  ornaments."10  With  his  de- 
pendence upon  the  church  fathers,  he  is  harsh 
toward  the  exponents  of  fresh  opinions. 

Walafrid  Strabo  (d.  849) ,  who  became  abbot 
of  Reichenau,  carried  on  the  Alcuin  tradition 
after  Rabanus.  The  Glossa  Ordinaria,  a  uni- 
versal commentary  on  scripture,  was  assumed  in 
the  later  Middle  Ages  to  be  the  work  of  Wala- 
frid. In  fact  it  was  substantially  of  later  origin, 
but  it  well  illustrates  the  tendency  of  the 
Alcuin  school.  It  is  a  compilation  of  extracts 
from  the  fathers,  usually  with  the  name  of  the 
original  author  indicated.  Many  Bible  passages 
are  left  unnoticed,  but  a  large  body  of  mate- 
rial is  presented.11  The  Glossa  Ordinaria  was 
one  of  those  useful  works  which,  while  possess- 
ing no  claim  to  originality,  have  exercised  great 
influence.  It  is  a  mark  of  weakness  in  the  later 
scholastics  that  they  recognized  this  anthology 
as  an  authoritative  work  of  interpretation. 
Thomas  Aquinas  honors  it  with  countless  cita- 
tions. 

Not  only  the  monastic  scholars  but,  as  we 
should  expect,  the  zealous  reformers  of  monas- 
ticism  in  the  early  Middle  Ages,  have  much  to 
say  about  the  Scriptures  and  urgently  seek  to 
give  reality  to  the  lectio  divina.  Benedict  of 
Aniane  (d.  821)  seizes  upon  the  passage  in  the 
final  chapter  of  the  Rule  of  Benedict  of  Nursia 
which  has  been  quoted  above  (p,  115) ,  and  sets 
it  in  the  first  paragraph  of  his  Concordia  Regu- 
larum.1*  The  brilliant  leadership  of  Odo  of 
Cluny  (d.  942)  gave  a  new  impulse  to  mo- 
nasticism  in  the  early  tenth  century.  Odo  under- 
took in  early  life,  even  before  he  had  become  a 

*lbid.,  CIX,  635  ff. 

10  Ibid.,  CXII,  849. 

11  The  work  occupies  about  two  thousand  columns  in 
Migne,  op.  cit.f  CXUI,  CXIV. 

«  Migne,  op.  cit.f  GUI,  718. 


monk,  to  labor  upon  interpretations  of  the 
Bible.  But  he  felt  serious  scruples,  and  under 
the  criticism  of  his  clerical  associates  at  Tours, 
shrank  from  independent  opinions.  His  chief 
contribution  was  his  Epitome  Moralium,  a 
condensation  of  Gregory's  work  on  Job.  In 
another  work,  the  Collationes,  he  gives  further 
evidence  of  his  interest  in  the  Bible.  In  the 
opening  section  of  this  work  Odo  says,  "If  there 
is  anything  which  can  keep  a  wise  man  stead- 
fast amid  worldly  turmoil,  it  is  most  of  all,  I 
believe,  meditation  on  the  Scriptures.  ...  In- 
deed, the  intention  of  all  scripture  is  to  restrain 
us  from  the  depravity  of  this  life."  13  This  is  the 
true  spirit  of  monastic  injunctions  regarding 
the  Scriptures.  It  does  not  directly  conduce  to 
technical'  study  of  the  text  or  to  independent 
intellectualmng  of  its  meaning.  The  monk  is  a 
seeker  after  spiritual  security.  Similar  is  the  at- 
titude of  Gerard  de  Brogne  (d.  959)  ,  a  reformer 
of  moriastidsm  in  the  region  of  Ghent  in  the 
Netherlands.  Gerard  became  a  preacher,  thereby 
attracting  recruits  to  his  movement.  His  early 
biographer  tells  us  that  he  sought  "by  opening 
the  fountain  of  the  Scriptures  to  water  their  dry 
minds,"  and  to  induce  the  spiritually  weak 
brethren  to  "take  the  life-giving  herb  of  the 
divine  word"  for  the  healing  of  their  vices.1* 

The  Norman  monk  and  prelate,  Lanfranc 
(d.  1089)  ,  who  played  an  important  part  in 
the  church  of  England,  like  Alcuin  and  his 
followers  relied  upon  the  patristic  writings  and 
resented  any  attempt  to  evade  that  authority. 
Thus  he  was  a  determined  opponent  of  Beren- 
gar  (d.  1088)  ,  who  in  a  dialectical  manner  in- 
troduced new  interpretations  of  the  passages  of 
scripture  concerning  the  Lord's  Supper.  This 
to  Lanfranc  was  "pertinacious  arrogance." 
Lanfranc,  however,  exhibits  a  great  interest  in 
improving  the  Vulgate  texts,  and  the  copying 
of  the  Scriptures  flourished  in  the  monasteries 
that  fell  under  his  influence. 

C.  Toward  a  More  Historical  Exegesis.  — 
There  were  other  authors,  however,  who  were 
nonconformists  with  respect  to  the  senses  of 
scripture  and  to  the  fashion  of  dependence 
upon  the  fathers.  This  is  true  of  the  illustrious 
Irishman,  Johannes  Scotus  Erigena  (d.  in  or 
after  877)  .  The  philosophical  mind  of  Erigena 
is  not  satisfied  with  the  sharp  distinction  be- 
tween the  word  and  its  spiritual  meaning  as- 
sumed by  the  Alcuin  school.  What  is  needed  is 
sound  intellectual  understanding  of  the  text. 
The  language  itself  has  everything  in  it  if  only 
the  mind  is  taught  to  draw  it  forth.  This  posi- 
tion encourages  the  labor  of  interpretation  and 
at  the  same  time  the  effort  to  obtain  the  best 


.,  CXXXIII,  520. 
14  Glunz,  op.  cit,,  p.  38;  text  in  Monumenta  Germaniae 
Historica,  Scriptores  (Hannover:  Hahn,  1888),  XV,  671. 


118 


MEDIEVAL  AND  REFORMATION  PERIOD 


possible  text.  Erigena  himself  examined  textual 
variants,  seeking  a  fuller  understanding  of 
scripture.15 

The  gifted  monk  of  St.  Gaul,  Notker  Balbulus 
(d.  912) ,  also  favored  a  more  critical  interpre- 
tation and  was  somewhat  disinclined  to  allegory. 
In  a  sort  of  bibliographical  guide  to  commen- 
taries on  the  Scriptures,  Notker  dryly  remarks 
that  the  Venerable  Bede,  in  his  comments  on 
Tobias  and  Esdras,  wrote  what  was  pleasant 
rather  tharf  what  was  required  and  tried  to  turn 
a  simple  story  into  allegory.18 

Christian  of  Stavelot  (d.  850) ,  commonly 
called  Druthmar,  at  the  beginning  of  his  com- 
mentary on  Matthew,  wrote: 

I  have  studied  to  follow  the  historical  more  than 
the  spiritual  sense  because  it  seemed  to  me  irra- 
tional to  seek  for  spiritual  knowledge  in  any  book 
and  to  be  utterly  ignorant  of  the  historical,  since 
history  is  the  foundation  of  all  knowledge  [quum 
historia  fundamentum  omnis  intelligentiae  sit].17 

Druthmar  does  not  revel  in  allegory,  but  he 
likes  to  offer  brief  historical  notes  on  place 
names,  and  simple  expositions  of  unusual  words. 
On  the  other  hand,  he  takes  a  great  interest  in 
edifying  etymologies  and  typological  identifica- 
tions. In  Matthew's  genealogy,  for  example, 
Abraham  "signifies"  the  Father,  Isaac  the  Lord 
Jesus  Christ.18 

In  the  twelfth  century  we  have  a  number  of 
commentators  who  show  a  marked  departure 
from  the  current  methods  of  exegesis.  Among 
these  is  Rupert  of  Deutz  (d.  1135) .  This  learned 
abbot  commented  on  many  Old  and  New  Testa- 
ment books,  and  wrote  a  quite  remarkable 
treatise,  On  the  Victory  of  God's  Word  (1127) . 
Christ,  for  .Rupert  as  for  Luther,  is  the  center 
of  all  scripture.  On  Rev.  12:21  and  Eph.  2:20 
he  remarks  that  the  prophets  are  foundations, 
the  apostles  foundations  of  foundations,  and 
Christ  the  foundation  of  all  foundations.19  In 
his  Victory  of  God's  Word  he  argues  that  "the 
Word  of  God  is  the  Son  of  God,"  and  that  the 
Scriptures  are  necessary  to  salvation  and  suffi- 
cient for  faith.  In  our  natural  ignorance  of  God 
they  are  our  one  light,  and  the  guide  to  the- 
ology. The  Scripture  is  not  a  book  of  dark 
mysteries,  but  essentially  simple,  and  suitable 
for  the  unlearned.  The  teacher  of  the  Word 
should  be  one  taught  of  God,  and  trained  for 

16  Glunz,  op.  cit.,  pp.  108  ff. 

ieJD«  Interpretibus  Divinarum  Scripturarum.  Migne, 
op.  cit.,  CXXXI,  997. 

17  Migne,  op.  cit.,  CVI,  1262;  the  commentary  has  been 
examined  by  M.  L.  W.  Laistner,  "A  Ninth-Century  Com- 
mentator on  the  Gospel  According  to  Matthew,"  Harvard 
Theological  Review,  XX  (1927),  129-49,  with  attention 
chiefly  to  text. 

*«  Migne,  op.  cit.,  CVI,  1268. 
.,  CLXIX,  1198. 


the  combat  like  Job's  war  horse.  We  receive  die 
Word  as  from  the  mouth  of  God.20  In  the  pref- 
ace to  his  Commentary  on  John's  Gospel  Rupert 
rejects  the  view  that  Augustine  is  a  sufficient 
authority,  and  affirms  the  right  of  other  Chris- 
tians to  expound  the  books.  Nor  is  it  necessary 
to  rest  on  the  authority  of  Gregory  for  Job.ul 
He  is  more  typically  medieval  when  he  makes 
the  seven  days  of  creation  a  forecast  of  the 
seven  gifts  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  He  laid  a  novel 
emphasis  in  his  soteriology  upon  the  work  of 
the  Holy  Spirit,  and  his  doctrine  of  the  Euchar- 
ist was  under  suspicion  as  a  reflection  of  the 
heresy  of  Berengar.22 

The  work  of  the  Victorines  was  also  startling. 
Both  Hugh  (d.  1141)  and  Andrew  (d.  1175) 
of  St.  Victor  profited  by  the  Old  Testament 
scholarship  of  the  new  school  of  French  rabbis 
who  followed  Solomon  Rashi  (d.  1105)  of 
Troyes.  Half  a  century  ago  Nicholas  of  Lyra 
was  regarded  as  the  first  Christian  greatly  in- 
debted to  Rashi.  Recent  scholarship  has  shown 
a  powerful  leaven  of  Rashi's  literal,  rational 
exegesis  upon  the  Christian  scholars  of  the 
twelfth  century.  Beryl  Smalley's  revealing  book, 
The  Study  of  the  Bible  in  the  Middle  Ages** 
strongly  supports  this  view,  and  also  reinforces 
the  evidence  that,  from  Rabanus  Maurus  down, 
Jewish  scholars  were  frequently  consulted  by 
Christians.  In  view  of  what  is  now  known  of 
Rashi's  Jewish  and  Christian  influence  in  many 
lands,  it  would  be  difficult  to  name  a  more  im- 
portant writer  in  the  whole  history  of  interpre- 
tation. Herman  Hailperin 2*  has  clarified  this 
matter  further.  He  points  out  that  amid*  the 
anti-Jewish  enactments  and  riots  of  the  early 
thirteenth  century,  when  the  Talmud  and 
Rashi's  commentaries  were  burned  at  Paris, 
Christians  were  busy  translating  parts  of  both. 
A  century  earlier  Bernard  of  Clairvaux  was 
anxious  about  this  intellectual  traffic  with  Jews. 
He  rebuked  a  young  scholar  for  "gnawing  crusts 
with  the  lettered  Jews":  "crust"  is  here  the 
letter  of  the  bread  of  scripture. 

Of  the  three  great  Victorines,  Hugh  was  a 
Saxon,  Richard  a  Scot,  and  Andrew  an  English- 
man. Hugh  went  for  help  to  the  rabbis  and 
worked  mainly  on  the  Old  Testament.  He  re- 
buked those  who  despised  the  letter.  "Subtract 
the  letter,  and  what  is  left?"  he  cogently  asks. 
He  advises,  "Do  not  despise  what  is  lowly  in 

20  De  Victoria  Verbi  Dei,  chs.  i-iv.  Migne,  op.  cit., 
CLXIX,  1217-29. 

ai  Migne,  op.  cit.,  CLXIX,  201-2. 

«  A.  J.  Macdonald,  Berengar  and  the  Reform  of  Sacra- 
mental Doctrine  (London:  Longmans,  Green  &  Co., 
1930),  pp.  399-400.  For  Rupert's  theology  see  the  article 
on  him  in  Dictionnaire  de  Theologie  Catholique  (Paris: 
Letouzey  et  An<§,  1903),  XIV,  169-205. 

28  Oxford:  Clarendon  Press,  1941. 

2*  "The  Hebrew  Heritage  of  Mediaeval  Christian  Bib- 
lical Scholarship,"  Historia  Judaica,  V  (1945),  135-54. 


119 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


God's  Word."  He  criticizes  the  interpretation 
of  Isa.  4:1,  "seven  women  shall  take  hold  of  one 
man/'  as  referring  to  the  seven  gifts  of  the 
Spirit,  without  acknowledging  that  the  prophet 
means  something  literal  as  well.  Hugh  would 
select  among  patristic  commentaries  "that  which 
has  been  certainly  intended  by  the  author/'  or 
if  that  is  unclear,  what  is  admissible  and  in 
accord  with  the  faith.  On  Ecclesiastes  he  blames 
those  who  "strive  superstitiously  to  find  a  mys- 
tical sense  and  a  deep  allegory  where  none  is." 
Possessed  of  a  fine  imagination,  he  was  able  to 
illuminate  the  literal  meaning  without  "toiling 
after  tropologies."  Beryl  Smalley  writes,  "His 
great  service  to  exegesis  was  to  lay  more  stress 
on  the  literal  interpretation  relatively  to  the 
spiritual."  25  In  De  Area  Noe  Morali 2a  he  ex- 
plains his  classroom  drawings  designed  to  show 
the  ark  just  as  Noah  built  it.  But  Hugh  is  no 
mere  literalist.  He  employs  with  the  Alexan- 
drians the  allegorical  and  tropological  as  well  as 
the  literal  sense.  "The  Ark  signifies  the  church/' 
he  here  observes,  "and  the  church  is  Christ's 
body;  so  I  have  drawn  the  whole  person  of 
Christ,  head  and  members.  .  .  ." 27 

Richard  (d.  1173)  and  Andrew  had  more 
knowledge  of  Hebrew  than  Hugh.  Richard,  like 
Bernard  of  Clairvaux,  wrote  against  the  Jewish 
literal,  and  to  him  therefore  false,  interpreta- 
tion. Richard  asks  his  readers  not  to  be  sur- 
prised if  something  has  escaped  the  fathers. 
What  has  escaped  them  is  the  value  of  the  lit- 
eral meaning.  He  implies  that  Gregory  was 
mistaken  in  saying  that  the  second  vision  of 
Ezekiel  had  no  meaning  according  to  the  letter. 
Yet  this  independence  is  asserted  with  great 
deference  to  the  patristic  authors.  The  earlier 
reapers  who  have  filled  their  volumes  with  corn 
have  left  gleanings  for  the  poorl  We  honor  the 
fathers  by  seeking  the  truth  beyond  their  reach. 
"Do  not  ask  whether  what  I  say  is  new,  but 
whether  it  is  true."  Richard  will  not  be  misled, 
however,  by  Jewish  tradition  to  question  the 
authority  of  the  Scriptures.  In  a  slap  at  Andrew, 
he  warns  that  Josephus  is  not  to  be  taken  as 
authoritative  simply  on  the  ground  that  he  is  a 
Jew.28 

Andrew  was  the  most  radical  of  the  cham- 
pions of  rational  literalism.  He  was  the  Aboard 
of  Bible  scholars.  Beryl  Smalley  even  calls  him 
a  humanist.  He  writes  with  no  interest  in  a 
theological  pattern  but  in  joy  of  the  perusal  of 
these  revered  documents  of  antiquity.  "A  pleas- 
ant toil,  a  toilsome  pleasure/'  he  esteems  the 
task,  and  he  is  sustained  by  a  hearty  assurance 
that  there  is  truth  yet  to  spring  forth  from  the 

ss  Smalley,  op.  cit.,  p  77. 
*3Migne,  op.  cit,  CLXXVI,  617 ff. 
** /&*<!,  CLXXVI,  622. 
*fl  Smalley,  op.  cit.,  p.  84. 


Word.  With  perfect  freedom  he  may  set  down 
phrases  like  these:  "We  follow  the  Jews  and 
Josephus  rather  than  Bede,"  or  "Men  of  great 
authority  give  this  opinion;  .  .  .  they  are  mis- 
led/' The  historical  method  may  involve  his- 
torical speculation  and  conjecture.  How  could 
Moses  know  what  happened  at  Creation?  Con- 
ceivably by  revelation  of  the  Holy  Spirit.  Pos- 
sibly, however,  the  history  was  handed  down 
from  Adam,  and  Moses  obtained  it  by  painstak- 
ing research  (dihgenter  investigare  curavit) . 
Andrew  makes  the  most  of  the  fragmentary 
biographical  details  furnished  by  Old  Testa- 
ment books  about  their  authors.  Isaiah  is  dis- 
tinguished for  seven  things:  his  noble  race, 
polished  eloquence,  dignified  office,  royal  con- 
nection, worth  of  character,  constancy,  and 
holiness.  This  approach  is  far  removed  from 
Gregory's  estimate  of  the  human  author  of  Job 
as  of  the  same  importance  as  the  pen  that  wrote 
the  book.  It  is  probable  that  if  Andrew  could 
have  stepped  into  the  study  of  Lorenzo  Valla, 
he  would  have  been  intellectually  at  home; 
while  in  the  company  of  his  elder  contempo- 
rary, Bernard  of  Clairvaux  (d.  1153) ,  he  would 
certainly  have  been  embarrassed.*9 

D-  Tension  Between  History  and  Allegory. — . 
Bernard's  sermons  on  the  Song  of  Songs  exhibit 
the  exegesis  of  edification  unalloyed  by  history. 
With  the  eloquence  of  free  discourse,  they 
gather  into  a  loose  relation  to  the  text  of  the 
book  a  body  of  mystical  reflections  upon  God, 
angels,  and  human  life.  Allegory  prevails,  but 
ascetic  morality  is  often,  if  sometimes  tardily, 
introduced.  "I  thought/'  says  Bernard,  wearied 
with  his  own  lucubrations,  "that  we  should 
quickly  traverse  this  forest  shady  with  allegories 
and  reach  the  level  ground  of  moral  meanings." 
Bernard's  allegorical  exuberance  carries  him  far 
indeed  from  the  embarrassing  literal  sense  of 
the  book.  The  words,  "the  virgins  love  thee," 
send  him  off  to  elaborate  the  diverse  reasons 
why  God  is  loved  by  angels,  archangels,  virtues, 
powers,  principalities,  dominations,  cherubim, 
and  seraphim.  The  phrase,  "go  forth  and  pas- 
ture thy  kids/'  causes  him  to  shed  "a  torrent  of 
tears":  the  bride  is  being  rebuked  and  sent 
away  in  anger  under  a  command  to  indulge  the 
fleshly  desires.  "But  whither  are  we  being 
borne?"  he  not  inappropriately  interjects.30 

Bernard  in  his  exhortation  to  Pope  Eugcnius 
III  presents  a  doctrine  of  the  two  swords  of 
Luke  22:38.  Alcuin  had  used  this  passage,  giving 
both  swords  to  Charlemagne,  not  yet  emperor, 
for  defense  of  Christendom  from  without  and 
from  within.  In  Bernard  the  swords  are  "spir- 

20  On  Andrew  see  Smalley,  op.  cit,,  ch,  iv.  Miss  Smalley 
has  used  MS  sources. 

**  Sermons  on  the  Canticles,  XVI.  1;  XXXIV.  3,  5; 
XXXV.  2.  Migne,  op.  cit.,  CLXXXIII,  849,  959  ff. 


120 


MEDIEVAL  AND  REFORMATION  PERIOD 


itual"  and  "material,"  and  they  are  wielded 
respectively  by  the  church  and  by  the  soldier  at 
the  bidding  (nutum)  of  the  clergy  and  at  the 
command  (iussum)  of  the  emperor.81  This  pas- 
sage was  to  be  habitually  invoked  in  support  of 
papal  claims  by  Innocent  III  and  his  successors. 
Here  it  may  be  said  that  a  study  of  the  use  of 
scripture  passages  in  asserting  papal  authority 
through  the  period  from  Pope  Gregory  VII  to 
the  Reformation  would  certainly  reveal  an  im- 
portant current  in  the  history  of  interpretation. 
The  texts  principally  relied  upon  were  the 
"dominical  charge"  in  Matt.  16:17-19;  the  com- 
mission of  Jeremiah,  "I  have  this  day  set  thee 
over  the  nations  and  over  the  kingdoms"  (Jer. 
1:10);  the  two  lights  set  in  the  firmament  at 
creation  (Gen.  1:16-18) ,  of  which  the  sun  is  the 
papacy  and  the  moon  is  the  secular  ruler;  and 
the  "two  swords"  passage.  The  last  two  repre- 
sent pure  allegory.  Many  other  passages  were 
employed  to  give  scriptural  basis  to  the  papal 
claims.  But  these  interpretations  were  disputed 
by  opponents  of  the  papacy,  notably  by  Dante 
in  De  Monarchia  (ca,  1309) . 

Reference  has  been  made  above  to  the  differ- 
ent senses  of  scripture  recognized  by  our  au- 
thors. Guibert  de  Nogent  (d.  1124),  in  a  book 
on  the  construction  of  sermons,  speaks  of  the 
four  senses  as  the  rules  by  which  every  page  of 
scripture  turns  as  on  so  many  wheels: 

That  is  to  say:  history,  which  speaks  of  things 
done;  allegory,  in  which  one  thing  is  understood 
by  another  [ex  alio  aliud];  tropology,  that  is,  the 
moral  way  of  speaking,  in  which  the  ordering  of 
morals  is  treated;  anagoge,  or  the  spiritual  under- 
standing by  which,  discussing  what  is  lofty  and 
heavenly,  we  are  led  to  things  above.83 

Hugh  of  St.  Cher  wrote:  "History  tells  what 
happened;  allegory  teaches  what  is  to  be  under- 
stood; anagogy,  what  is  to  be  sought  after; 
tropology,  what  is  to  be  done."  88 

The  main  tension  seems  to  have  been  be- 
tween allegory  and  history,  and  most  writers 
were  partisans  of  one  or  the  other  of  these. 
Joachim  of  Floris  (d.  1202)  carried  allegory  to 
an  extreme,  presenting  a  revolutionary  doc- 
trine of  the  church.  But  the  moral  sense 
emerged  into  new  prominence  in  the  twelfth 
and  thirteenth  centuries.  Even  before  the  Vic- 

**De  Consideratione  IV.  3.  7;  Migne,  op.  cit,t 
CLXXXII,  776. 

82  Quo  Ordine  Sermo  Fieri  Debet.  Migne,  op.  cit., 
CLVI,  25-26. 

**  Opera  (Venice:  Nicolaus  Pezzana,  1703),  I,  2.  The 
mnemonic  verses  quoted  by  Nicholas  of  Lyra,  and  very 
frequently  by  later  writers,  that  call  to  mind  this  "four- 
horse  chariot"  (quadriga),  as  Luther  called  it,  ran  thus: 
Litera  gesta  docet 
quid  credas  allegoria 
moralis  quid  agas 
quo  tendas  anagogia. 


torines,  Guibert  remarked  that  the  need  of  the 
age  was  no  longer  for  allegory  but  rather  for 
tropology,  the  moral  sense.  The  great  com- 
mentators, Peter  Comestor  (d.  1179?),  chief 
author  of  the  Historia  Scholastic^  Peter  Cantor 
(d.  1197) ,  and  Stephen  Langton  (d.  1228) ,  con- 
stitute what  Grabmann  and  Beryl  Smalley  have 
called  the  "biblical  moral  school."  The  lectures 
of  these  professors  were  taken  down  in  short- 
hand and  afterward  polished,  as  Beryl  Smalley 
shows  in  her  discriminating  chapter  on  the 
three.  The  Historia  Scholastica  3*  is  a  Bible  with 
extensive  comments;  it  was  very  widely  circu- 
lated, and  was  printed  in  1473  at  Augsburg.  At 
the  outset  Peter  Comestor  says:  "Holy  Scripture 
is  God's  dining  room,  where  the  guests  are  made 
soberly  drunk."  85  The  foundation  is  history, 
which  divides  into  annals,  calendars,  and 
ephemera  (the  records  of  years,  months,  and 
days) ;  the  walls  are  allegory,  which  makes  one 
event  the  figure  of  another;  the  roof  is  tropol- 
ogy, which  from  what  has  been  done  suggests 
what  we  ought  to  do.  This  passage  may  be 
compared  with  the  language  of  Rabanus 
Maurus  quoted  above.  With  a  similar  view 
Langton  makes  the  words,  "Thy  silver  is  be- 
come dross"  (Isa.  1:22)  apply  to  the  work  of 
scholars  who  turn  from  tropological  and  moral 
to  "curious"  questions.8* 

E.  The  Scholastic  Age. — We  are  now  in  the 
age  of  the  universities,  the  friars,  and  the  great 
Scholastics.  Robert  Grosseteste  (d.  1253)  taught 
the  young  Franciscans  of  Oxford  to  love  and 
labor  over  the  Scriptures.  Dominic  was  himself 
an  intense  Bible  student;  and  Ray  C.  Petry  has 
shown  that  Francis  of  Assisi  searched  the  Scrip- 
tures for  testimony  of  Jesus,  while  he  found 
there  also  the  justification  of  the  Friars  Minor. 
Francis  uses  very  effectively  the  literal  sense. 
But  Petry  in  his  chapter  on  "The  Last  Times 
and  the  Kingdom  of  God"  exhibits  what  is 
really  the  Franciscan  appropriation  of  ana- 
gogy.87 Certain  of  the  Spiritual  Franciscans  were 
to  carry  this  eschatological  strain,  with  the  aid 
of  Joachim,  to  a  fanatical  pitch,  while  others  in 
a  more  literal  apocalypticism  identified  in  the 
contemporary  scene  the  enemies  of  God.  At 
Oxford  and  Paris  a  sober  and  rational  inter- 
pretation was  carried  on  by  Franciscan  and 
Dominican  professors.  We  are  not  here  con- 
cerned with  the  work  of  the  Paris  correctors, 
such  as  William  de  la  Mare  and  Gerard  of 

**  Migne,  op.  cit.,  CXCVIII,  1053-1722.  Hans  Vollmer 
has  edited  Latin  and  German  versions:  Materialien  zur 
Bibelgeschichte  .  .  .  des  Mittelalters  (Berlin:  Weidmann, 
1912-16),  II,  i,  ii. 

«s  Migne,  op.  cit.,  CXCVIII,  1053. 

"  Smalley,  op.  cit.,  p.  199. 

*7  Francis  of  Assisi,  Apostle  of  Poverty  (Durham:  Duke 
University  Press,  1941),  chs.  iv,  v;  cf.  Ernst  Benz,  Ecdesia 
Spiritualis  (Stuttgart:  W.  Kohlhammer,  1934),  Part  III. 


121 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


Huy:  but  their  rather  unsuccessful  attempts  to 
purge  the  text  are  evidence  of  the  importance 
of  the  problem  of  Bible  text  in  the  Scholastic 
age.  The  chapter  general  of  the  Dominicans  in 
1256  complained  of  their  lack  of  success.  Roger 
Bacon  thought  they  did  more  harm  than  good, 
and  at  the  same  time  criticized  the  weakness  of 
academic  study  of  Scripture.  But  the  fact  is  that 
the  Scholastics  had  something  of  a  new  scholarly 
power  of  biblical  interpretation;  and  it  is  con- 
trary to  fact  to  say  that  Aristotle  crowded  the 
Scriptures  out  of  their  thoughts. 

It  is  doubtful  whether  any  theologian  has  ever 
surpassed  Thomas  Aquinas  in  familiarity  with 
the  language  of  the  Latin  Bible.  There  is  a 
legend  that  he  memorized  it  throughout  while 
detained  by  his  brothers  from  entering  the 
Dominican  order.  In  the  Summa  Theologica, 
before  taking  up  the  doctrine  of  God,  he  pre- 
sents a  doctrine  of  sacred  Scripture.  Here  he 
examines  the  question  "Whether  Scripture  has 
more  senses  than  the  literal,"  and  after  refer- 
ences to  Augustine  and  Gregory,  responds  (con- 
densed) : 

God  is  the  Author  of  Holy  Scripture.  He  has  given 
a  meaning  not  only  to  the  words  but  to  the  things 
they  signify,  so  that  the  things  signified  in  turn 
signify  something  else.  Primarily,  words  signify 
things,  which  is  the  historical  sense;  secondarily, 
the  things  signify  other  things,  and  we  get  the 
spiritual  sense  The  latter  is  of  three  sorts.  The 
Old  Law  is  allegorically  interpreted  in  the  New 
Law,  but  the  interpretation  of  matters  affecting 
Christ  and  our  obligation  is  tropological,  and  that 
which  deals  with  the  eternal  glory  is  the  anagogical 
or  celestial  sense.  The  literal  sense  is  that  which  the 
author  intends,  but  God  being  the  Author,  we  may 
expect  to  find  in  Scripture  a  wealth  of  meaning.88 

Thomas  here  quotes  with  approval  Augustine's 
statement,  "On  the  literal  sense  alone  can  we 
base  arguments/'  and  this  principle  is  habitu- 
ally observed  in  the  Summa.  But  his  Catena 
aurea,  or  Commentary  on  the  Four  Gospels  Col- 
lected Out  of  the  Works  of  the  Fathers™  an 
assemblage  of  quotations  from  numerous  au- 
thors ranging  from  Origen  to  the  twelfth- 
century  Interlinear  Gloss,  shows  how  highly  he 
prized  the  nonliteral  senses.  The  locusts  and 
wild  honey  that  nourished  John  the  Baptist 
(Matt.  3:4)  point  to  the  fact  that  his  speeches 
were  sweet  as  honey  but  of  short  flight,  like 
that  of  locusts,  arid  his  earners  hair  garment 
represents  the  church  of  the  Gentiles.  In  Matt. 
8:20  the  foxes  and  the  birds  are  respectively 
deceitful  and  proud  demons,  or  (by  another 
authority)  they  signify  heretics  and  Jews.  The 
four  thousand  of  Mark  8:9,  20  are  men  perfect 

38  Part  I,  question  1,  Art.  10. 

**  Oxford:  James  Parker  &  Co.,  1874. 


in  the  four  virtues;  the  five  thousand  of  Mark 
8:19  are  men  enslaved  to  the  five  senses.  Similar 
interpretations  abound  in  the  Meditations  of 
Thomas,  where  many  Old  Testament  passages 
are  employed  to  sustain  medieval  doctrines.*0 
For  Thomas  the  teaching  of  the  church  is  to 
be  adhered  to  "as  an  infallible  and  divine 
rule."  41  As  a  commentator  the  Angelic  Doctor 
too  often  plays  a  role  of  conservative  depend- 
ence on  less  competent  minds  than  his  own. 

F.  Rashi  and  Nicholas  of  Lyra. — Resistance 
to  allegorical  excess  seems  to  have  owed  much 
to  Rashi  and  his  Christian  disciples.  The  age 
of  Aquinas  produced  an  anonymous  Christian 
commentary  on  the  Song  of  Songs  which  follows 
Rashi  closely,  and  except  at  the  very  end  makes 
no  reference  to  Christ.42  Rashi  was  given  Chris- 
tian reincarnation  in  Nicholas  of  Lyra  (d. 
1S40) ,  a  Norman  Franciscan  and  Sorbonne 
doctor.  His  great  commentary,  Postillae  Per- 
petuae  in  Vetus  et  Novum  Testamentum,  re- 
flects on  almost  every  page  of  its  fifty  books  the 
opinions  of  Rashi  ("Rabbi  Solomon") .  Lyra 
makes  no  profession  of  novel  purpose.  He  re- 
cites respectfully  the  now  traditional  description 
of  the  four  senses,  and  quotes  the  passage  of 
Aquinas  on  this  topic,  to  which  reference  has 
been  made.  But  he  labors  to  bring  out  the 
historic  meaning  of  the  Hebrew  and  Greek. 
Herman  Hailperin,  in  a  study  of  Rashi's  in- 
fluence on  Lyra,48  rates  highly  his  appreciation 
of  the  nuances  of  Hebrew  and  interest  in  Bible 
customs,  in  which  he  followed  Rashi.  Some- 
times he  rejects  Rashi's  view  and  goes  over  his 
head  to  the  Targums.  More  often  he  prefers 
Rashi  to  Jerome  or  some  other  Christian  author- 
ity. Yet  in  doctrinal  matters  Lyra,  much  more 
than  Andrew  of  St.  Victor,  stands  on  guard  for 
the  Christian  tradition. 

It  is  of  interest  that  the  Waldenses,  who  long 
before  Nicholas  had  taken  their  stand  on  the 
Scriptures  literally  understood  as  sufficient  for 
salvation,  and  had  condemned  as  "Pharisees" 
the  conventionally  allegorical  commentators 
who  supported  "idolatry"  by  their  interpreta- 
tions, made  considerable  use  of  the  Postillae.** 
In  this  they  were  followed  by  the  Reformers. 
Lyra  calls  Rashi  the  commentator  "whose  teach- 

*°The  Meditations  has  been  edited  in  Latin  and 
English  by  P.  D.  Mezard  and  E.  C.  McEniry  (Columbus, 
Ohio:  1940).  See  pp  37,  63  ff,  154,  438,  482. 

«  Cf.  Hugh  Pope,  "His  Principles  of  Biblical  Interpre- 
tation" in  Aelred  Whitacre  et  al,  St.  Thomas  Aquino* 
(Oxford:  Basil  Blackwell,  1924),  pp.  125-39. 

*2  Smalley,  op.  tit.,  p.  262. 

*s  "Nicolas  de  Lyra  and  Rashi:  The  Minor  Prophets," 
Pashi  Anniversary  Volume  (New  York:  American  Acad- 
emy for  Jewish  Research,  1941),  pp.  115-47. 

**  Louis  I.  Newman,  Jewish  Influence  on  Christian 
Reform  Movements  (New  York:  Columbia  University 
Press,  1925),  pp.  74-78,  213-39. 


122 


MEDIEVAL  AND  REFORMATION  PERIOD 


ing  is  reported  most  authentic  among  modern 
Jews."  Luther  refers  to  Lyra  as  "an  excellent 
man,  a  good  Hebraist,  and  a  steadfast  Chris- 
tian." *5  The  unknown  author  of  the  immortal 
jingle 

Si  Lyra  non  lyrasset 
Lutherus  non  saltasset 

oversimplifies  the  relationship.  As  Lyra  was 
indebted  to  others  than  Rashi,  so  Luther  was 
indebted  to  many  interpreters  besides  Lyra. 
But  in  both  cases  the  debt  to  the  predecessor 
named  was  primary.  Many  sixteenth-century 
commentators  besides  Luther,  humanist,  Ro- 
man Catholic,  and  Protestant,  used  the  Postillae 
with  appreciation. 

The  way  to  the  Reformation  interpretation 
of  scripture  was  led  not  only  by  Lyra  but  by 
the  work  of  Lorenzo  Valla  (d.  1457) ,  Gianozzo 
Manetti  (d.  1459) ,  John  Wessel  Gansfort  (d. 
1489),  John  Colet  (d.  1519),  Jacques  Lefevre 
(d.  1536) ,  Erasmus  (d.  1536) ,  and  other  hu- 
manists who  by  their  Greek  and  Hebrew  studies 
laid  the  foundation  for  a  philological  under- 
standing of  the  Scriptures.  The  effect  of  their 
work — not  always  its  purpose — was  to  give  a 
new  prominence  to  the  literal  and  historical 
sense.  By  the  time  of  Luther's  early  commen- 
taries the  shackles  of  tradition  were  already 
weakened. 

II.  The  Reformation 

A.  Martin  Luther. — In  his  Address  to  the 
German  Nobility  (1520)  Luther  vehemently 
denounced  the  view  that  the  interpretation  of 
scripture  belongs  to  the  pope  alone.  It  belongs, 
he  says  in  effect,  to  pious  and  competent  Chris- 
tians. It  is,  moreover,  a  task  that  isjiever  com- 
pleted. In  the  Commentaries  on  *the  Psalms 
(1519-21)  he  states  th*  matter  thus: 

I  came  to  this  opinion,  that  no  man's  interpreta- 
tion, (assuming  it  to  be  pious)  ought  to  be  rejected 
unless  by  the  law  of  retaliation  one  chooses  to  be 
rejected  in  turn.  He  is  lacking  in  some  things,  you 
in  more;  I  see  many  things  missed  by  Augustine, 
and  I  know  men  will  see  many  things  that  I  myself 
do  not  see.  .  .  .  Our  life  is  a  beginning  and  a  going 
forward,  not  a  consummation.46 

Interpretation  is  thus  in  a  degree  fluid,  and  it 
cannot  be  held  static  by  ecclesiastical  authority. 
"The  Church,"  says  Luther,  "is  a  daughter  born 
of  the  Word,  not  the  mother  of  the  Word."  *7 
He  many  times  insists  that  he  is  doing  nothing 
final  either  in  translation  or  in  interpretation. 

«  S&mmentliche  Werke  (Erlaagen:  Carl  Hender,  1845), 
XXXVII,  4. 

*«  Werke  (Weimar:  Hermann  Bohlan,  1892),  V,  23. 

*T  Lectures  on  Genesis,  7:16-24.  Werke,  Weimar  edition, 
XLII,  924. 


Yet  he  is  assured  and  unyielding  on  the  main 
principles  by  which  he  is  guided,  and  which 
form  the  bases  of  his  theology.  Thus  in  his 
Preface  to  Romans,  having  stressed  the  priority 
of  faith  to  works  and  the  Pauline  meaning  of 
"flesh"  as  sin  and  unbelief,  he  adds: 

Without  such  an  understanding  of  these  words  you 
will  never  understand  this  letter  of  St.  Paul,  or  any 
other  book  of  Holy  Scripture.  Therefore,  beware  of 
all  teachers  who  use  these  words  in  a  different 
sense,  . .  .  even  Jerome,  Augustine,  Ambrose,  Origen 
and  men  like  them  or  above  them.*8 

Luther  has  praise  and  blame  for  many  com- 
mentators. He  recognizes  the  indispensable 
service  of  humanism  to  interpretation: 

As  for  me,  I  am  persuaded  that  without  skill  in 
literature  genuine  theology  cannot  stand,  just  as 
hitherto  in  the  ruin  and  prostration  of  letters  it 
too  has  miserably  fallen  and  been  laid  low.  Indeed 
I  see  that  the  remarkable  disclosure  of  the  Word 
of  God  would  never  have  taken  place  had  He  not 
first  prepared  the  way  by  the  rediscovery  of  lan- 
guages and  sciences,  as  by  Baptist  forerunners.4* 

But  his  reported  saying,  "The  inseparable  com- 
panion of  Holy  Scripture  is  the  Holy  Spirit,"  B0 
reveals  what  is  really  the  governing,  if  some- 
what intangible,  principle  of  authority.  Again, 
Luther  strongly  affirms  and  constantly  exempli- 
fies the  view  that  Christ  is  the  center  around 
which  all  Scripture  revolves — the  punctus 
mathematicus  sacrae  scripturae™  and  that  the 
entire  Bible  has  meaning  by  virtue  of,  and  in 
proportion  to,  its  emphasis  upon  the  gospel  of 
Christ.  His  prefaces  to  the  Old  Testament,  and 
to  its  several  books,  bring  out  this  point  clearly, 
and  in  his  commentaries  on  Genesis,  Isaiah,  and 
the  Psalms  we  are  never  long  unreminded  of  it. 
Thus  in  Ps.  2  "the  kings  of  the  earth"  are  Herod 
and  Pilate;  Christ  speaks  of  the  church  in  "my 
holy  hill  of  Zion";  the  "rod  of  Iron"  is  the 
gospel,  an  opinion  which  he  labors  to  illustrate 
with  allegorical  detail.52 

Luther  frequently  expresses  a  preference  for 
the  grammatico-historical  interpretation,  or  lit- 
eral sense,  but  it  would  be  a  basic  error  to  sup- 
pose that  he  was  always  content  to  follow  it. 
Indeed  we  find  him  often  quite  hospitable  to 
the  stock  allegories  of  the  fathers,  and  fertile 

*s  Works  of  Martin  Luther,  tr.  C.  M.  Jacobs  (Phila- 
delphia: Muhlenberg  Press,  1932),  VI,  453.  Original  in 
Luther's  Werke,  Weimar  edition,  Deutsche  Bible,  VII 
(1931),  12. 

*»  Letter  to  Eoban  Hess,  March  29,  1523.  Werke, 
Weimar  edition,  Luthers  Briefwechsel,  III,  50. 

*«  Werke,  Weimar  edition,  Tischreden,  V,  397  (No. 
5904). 

**>lbid.t  II,  439  (No.  2383). 

«a  Werke,  Weimar  edition,  V,  47  tL 


123 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


in  inventing  his  own.  There  are  sections  of  his 
commentaries  that  are  surprisingly  medieval  in 
this  respect.  In  his  Lectures  on  Genesis  (1535- 
45)  he  inserts  (at  ch.  9)   a  disquisition  on  alle- 
gories and  his  use  of  them.  He  had  been  led, 
he  tells  us,  into  allegorical  interpretations  by 
Origen,  Jerome,  and  Augustine,  but  finding  that 
he  was  following  a  vain  shadow,  began  to  detest 
allegories.  Miintzer  and  the  Anabaptists  have 
been  wrong  in  turning  everything  into  allegory. 
Allegories  are  to  be  permitted  only  if  they  ob- 
serve the  analogy  of  faith.  Some  of  the  fathers 
leave  out  faith;  and  it  is  rash  impudence  and 
ambition  to  assert  papal  supremacy  on  the  alle- 
gory of  the  sun  and  moon.  When  Luther  here 
adopts  from  the  ancients  the  view  that  the  ark 
of  Noah  typifies  Christ,  with  whom  we  are  saved 
from  the  flood,  and  points  with  approval  to 
their  observation  that  the  ark  like  the  human 
body  is  six  times  as  long  as  it  is  wide,  we  fear 
that  he  is  still  pursuing  the  "shadow."  But  he 
sums  up  his  thought  on  the  subject  in  a  lucid 
and  revealing  statement: 

I  have  often  said  what  theology  was  when  I 
entered  upon  this  kind  of  study.  They  used  to  say, 
"The  letter  killeth"  (II  Cor.  3:6).  Therefore  I 
disliked  Lyra  most  of  all  interpreters  because  he 
followed  so  diligently  the  literal  meaning.  But  now, 
in  commendation  of  this  very  thing,  I  prefer  him  to 
almost  all  interpreters  of  Scripture.  And  I  admonish 
you  with  the  utmost  earnestness,  seek  to  be  diligent 
in  appraising  historical  matters.  But  if  ever  you 
wish  to  use  allegory,  do  so  observing  the  analogy  of 
faith;  that  is,  accommodate  it  to  Christ,  the  church, 
faith,  and  the  ministry  of  the  Word.58 

Despite  inconsistencies  and  traditional  and  un- 
fruitful interpretations,  Luther's  powerful  mind 
produced  a  new  and  vitalizing  presentation  of 
scripture  in  which  the  Old  Testament  is  made 
to  support  the  teaching  of  the  New.  In  his  doc- 
trine of  salvation  the  law,  nevertheless,  stands 
in  dramatic  antithesis  to  the  gospel :  it  convinces 
us  of  sin,  for  which  the  gospel  offers  forgiveness. 
Thus  the  whole  Bible  becomes  significant  as  a 
testimony  to  those  central  convictions  that  he 
regards  as  the  essentials  of  Christianity.  Luther's 
theology  dominates  his  evaluation  of  the  scrip- 
ture books.  He  feels  free  to  hold  certain  of 
them  in  far  higher  esteem  than  others.  In  the 

»«  Werke,  Weimar  edition,  XLII,  877.  Luther  has  here 

Indicated  broadly  what  he  means  by  the  "analogy  of 

faith,"  a  term  employed  by  Augustine.  In  Rom,  12-6, 

icatTd  TT^V  dvoAoyfav  Ttj$  TrfcrrewQ,   certainly  a   different 

sense  is  intended  than  that  understood  in  hermeneutics 

In  the  latter  the  term  was  used  as  a  cable  by  which 

interpretation  could  be  moored  to  orthodox  belief.  On 

the  progress  of  Luther's  thought  concerning  the  senses  of 

scripture  there  are  some  valuable  pages  in  J.  M.  Ren, 

Luther's  German  Bible  (Columbus,  Ohio:  Lutheran  Book 

Concern,  1934),  pp.  124  ff. 


New  Testament  itself  he  has  little  use  for 
James  and  Revelation,  since  they  fail  to  supply 
corroboration  of  the  gospel  as  he  understands 
it.  According  to  a  passage  in  the  Table  Talk, 
it  was  his  habit  to  read  the  Bible  through  twice 
a  year.84  At  any  rate,  he  was  completely  familiar 
with  all  of  it.  With  great  readiness  he  can 
match  passage  with  passage.  His  sermons  flash 
with  insights  that  are  the  fruits  of  eager  study 
and  reveal  the  resources  of  scripture  for  the 
Christian  life. 

B.  John  Calvin.— Calvin's  masterly  knowl- 
edge of  the  language  and  thought  of  the  Bible 
is  the  key  to  his  power  as  a  theologian.  His 
commentaries  form  the  major  portion  of  his 
writings;  and  virtually  all  his  treatises  proceed 
by  a  series  of  references  to  scripture  passages. 
He  omitted  from  formal  exposition  only  one 
book  of  the  New  Testament  and  eight  of  the 
Old.  He  makes  some  use  of  every  scripture  book, 
though  he  almost  completely  neglects  the  Song 
of  Songs  and  Revelation.  Of  the  latter  he  is 
reported  to  have  said  that  he  was  totally  unable 
to  find  its  meaning.56  In  the  Institutes  he  quotes 
the  New  Testament  3,098  times,  the  Old  1,755 
times.56  Henri  Clavier,  in  a  careful  examination 
of  Calvin's  biblicism,  finds  a  distinction  between 
the  Word  and  the  Scripture.  The  Word  is  God's 
communication  of  himself:  in  the  Scripture  it 
becomes  precise.57  For  Calvin,  as  for  Aquinas, 
"the  Author  of  Scripture  is  God":  he  affirms 
its  "complete  credit  and  authority."  He  would 
like  to  assert  the  inerrancy  of  the  Scriptures, 
but  in  fact  admits  minor  errors.  In  Eph.  4:8 
Paul  misquotes  Ps.  68:18,  even  seeming  to  re- 
verse the  psalmist's  meaning.  Calvin  argues  that 
the  apostle  is  not  repeating  the  words  but  pur- 
suing the  matter  itself,  and  he  uses  other  verses 
of  the  psalm  to  enforce  his  point.58  From  Ps. 
8:6  and  Heb.  2:7  "we  see  with  what  freedom 
the  apostles  permitted  themselves  to  quote 
scripture  passages.59  The  apostles  were  not  so 
scrupulous  (in  quotations)  as  to  decline  to 
accommodate  their  language  to  the  unin- 
formed.80 Praiseworthy  as  is  the  teaching  of 
II  Peter,  its  inferior  style  may  be  explained  on 
the  ground  that  the  apostle  in  his  old  age 
dictated  it  to  some  disciple.*1  Classical  authofs 
are  employed  to  give  perspective  on  the  lan- 

»*  Tischreden,  II,  244  <No.  1877). 

88  lean  Bodin,  Method  for  the  Easy  Comprehension  of 
History,  tr.  Beatrice  Reynolds  (New  York:  Columbia 
University  Press,  1945),  p.  291. 

"Henri  Clavier,  Etudes  sur  le  calvinisme  (Paris: 
Fischbacher,  1936),  p.  87. 

*ilbid.,  p.  108. 

**  Opera,  Corpus  Reformatorum  (Brunsvig:  C.  A. 
Schwitschke,  1863),  LI,  194. 

**Ibid.,  XXXI,  92. 

.,  LV,  159.  On  Heb.  11:21. 


124 


MEDIEVAL  AND  REFORMATION  PERIOD 


guage  of  scripture.  For  example,  on  KocXou  epyou 
in  I  Tim.  3:1  he  remarks: 

I  doubt  not  that  lie  alludes  to  the  ancient  Greek 
proverb,  often  quoted  by  Plato,  SucrKoAoc  TCC  KocXd, 
which  means  in  Greek,  "Those  things  that  are  beau- 
tiful (pulchra)  are  also  arduous  and  difficult."  62 

Thus,  he  is  sometimes  led,  though  not  willingly, 
to  the  view  that  it  is  not  the  letter  of  scripture, 
but  the  substance  of  doctrine  in  it,  that  is 
verbum  Dei.  His  oft-quoted  designation  of  the 
apostles  as  "authentic  amanuenses  of  the  Holy 
Spirit,"  6<}  and  his  statement  that  the  Scriptures 
are  "given  to  us  by  the  very  mouth  of  God"  6A 
must  be  read  in  the  light  of  his  commentaries, 
which  exhibit  no  such  assumption  of  verbal  in- 
fallibility as  these  words  seem  to  imply.  The 
Bible  authors  are  inspired  indeed;  they  are  in- 
spired personalities  writing  out  of  their  con- 
scious experiences  and  in  historic  settings  that 
are  significant  to  the  interpreter. 

In  his  handling  of  scripture  Calvin  habitually 
draws  together  both  Testaments.  So  much  is 
this  the  case  that  many  expounders  of  his 
thought  have  overlooked  his  repeated  affirma- 
tions of  a  progressive  revelation  in  the  Bible. 
God,  Calvin  atgucs,  has  employed  an  order  and 
economy  in  dispensing  his  covenant  of  mercy, 
making  additional  revelations  "from  day  to 
day."  The  promise  to  Adam  was  as  a  feeble 
spark;  the  light  enlarged  in  course  of  time  until 
the  coming  of  Christ,  the  Sun  of  Righteousness, 
who  illumined  the  whole  world/17  Calvin  some- 
times represents  Bible  writers  as  accommodating 
their  messages  to  the  mental  capacities  of  their 
original  readers.  Thus  Moses  in  Gen.  1:16  im- 
plies that  the  moon  is  next  in  size  to  the  sun 
among  the  heavenly  bodies.  Astronomy,  in  deny- 
ing this,  is  not  to  be  repiobated,  nor  did  Moses 
mean  to  condemn  that  admirable  science.  But 
he  was  a  teacher  of  uneducated  people,  and 
descended  to  the  level  of  their  understanding. 
Meanwhile  the  splendor  of  moonlight  should 
teach  us  the  beneficence  of  God.fl<J  Calvin  pre- 
sents at  length  the  evidence  of  "the  superior 
excellence  of  the  New  Testament  over  the 

« Ibid.,  LII,  279. 

**  Institutes,  IV.  8.  9. 

«*  Ibid  ,  I.  7.  5.  But  compare  his  Homilies  on  1  Samuel, 
Homily  42,  where  prophets  and  pastors  in  the  church  are 
referred  to  as  "the  very  mouth  of  God."  Opera,  XXIX, 
705. 

**  Institutes,  II  10.  20;  11.  2-5;  cf.  P.  T.  Fuhrmann, 
God-Centered  Religion  (Grand  Rapids:  Zondervan  Pub- 
lishing House,  1942),  p.  84. 

«fl  Opera,  XXIII,  22.  There  is  a  very  similar  passage  in 
Aquinas  (Summa  Theologica,  Part  I,  question  68,  Art. 
3 ) :  "But  it  is  to  be  borne  in  mind  that  Moses  was  speak- 
ing to  a  rude  people  [rudi  populo  loquebatur]  and,  to 
condescend  to  their  weak  capacity,  he  set  forth  to  them 
only  what  was  clearly  apparent  to  their  senses  [sensui 
manifeste  apparuit]," 


Old."  67  But  he  links  the  two  intimately,  and 
sometimes  overstates  the  Christian  element  in 
the  Old  Testament,  while  on  the  other  hand 
he  sometimes  employs  the  harsher  passages  of 
the  early  books  to  the  detriment  of  the  doctrine 
of  grace.68  Furthermore,  he  uses  typology  to 
mark  the  relationship  between  the  Old  Cove- 
nant and  the  New;  for  instance,  in  making  the 
land  of  Canaan  a  figure  of  the  eternal  inherit- 
ance.69 Apart  from  this  discovery  of  "types"  of 
the  gospel  in  the  rites  and  narratives  of  the 
Old  Testament,  he  is  firm  in  his  avoidance  of 
nonliteral  meanings.  Where  it  is  necessary  to 
explain  a  manifest  allegory  in  the  text,  he 
handles  the  matter  with  circumspect  precision, 
and  minimi/es  the  allegorical  element.  In  his 
commentary  on  Galatians  he  points  out  that 
ever  since  the  early  fathers,  men  have  by  alle- 
gory "changed  into  curious  shapes  the  sacred 
Word/'  Here  he  states  that  "the  true  meaning 
of  scripture  is  the  natural  and  obvious  mean- 
ing"; to  it  we  ought  to  adhere  firmly.  Paul, 
when  in  Gal.  4:22-25  he  allegorizes  Gen.  16, 
does  not  imply  that  Moses  wrote  with  the  pur- 
pose that  his  history  should  be  turned  into 
allegory.70  Calvin  objects  to  the  traditional 
"frigid"  interpretation  that  would  identify  the 
four  chariots  of  Zech.  6:1-3  with  the  four  Gos- 
pels.71 On  the  use  of  Isaiah's  Trisagion  (6:3)  as 
an  argument  to  quell  the  Arians,  he  remarks 
stiffly:  "I  should  prefer  to  employ  firmer  evi- 
dence.*' 72 

In  the  preface  to  his  first  commentary 
(Romans,  1539) ,  Calvin  reminds  his  friend 
Grynaeus  of  a  conversation  in  which  the  two 
had  discussed  the  qualities  needed  in  an  exegete. 
They  had  agreed  that  these  were  clearness  and 
brevity,  and  that  it  was  "his  particular  duty  to 
exhibit  the  spirit  of  the  writer/'  Calvin  was  not 
forgetful  of  these  principles.  "Brevity"  is  a 
relative  term,  but  though  his  commentaries  are 
extensive,  they  are  written  with  economy  of 
language.  What  is  attempted  is  a  searching  out 
of  the  meaning  of  the  text,  as  the  scripture 
writer  understood  it.  The  resources  of  human- 
istic learning  are  employed,  historical  data  are 
freely  used,  and  at  points  of  difficulty  the 
opinions  of  earlier  commentators  are  sifted. 
Doctrinal  interest  is  keen,  and  we  are  made 
aware  of  what  has  been  referred  to  above  as 
the  "analogy  of  faith/'  For  Calvin  this  calls 

«7  Institutes  II.  11.  12.  The  treatment  of  this  point  by 
Rupert  E.  Davies,  The  Problem  of  Authority  in  the  Con- 
tinental  Reformers  (London:  Epworth  Press,  1946),  pp. 
Ill  ff.,  tends  to  minimize  the  differences  noted  by  Calvin. 

68  See  e.g.,  his  Commentary  on  Joshuaf  10:18;  Opera* 
XXV,  502. 

"  Institutes  II.  11.  1-4. 

«•  Opera,  L,  237. 

« Ibid.,  XLIV,  202. 

« Ibid.,  XXXVI,  129, 


125 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


forth  a  great  emphasis  upon  the  scripture  testi- 
mony to  the  sovereignty  of  God,  and  an  exag- 
geration of  the  arguments  for  predestination. 
But  this  does  not  eclipse  the  objective  of  a  clear 
understanding  of  the  writer's  meaning.  In  order 
to  appreciate  Calvin's  commentaries  one  does 
not  have  to  subscribe  to  his  entire  theology. 
Indeed,  F.  A.  G.  Tholuck  remarks  that  he  "is 
by  no  means  solicitous  to  insist,  in  all  cases,  and 
with  zeal,  upon  that  meaning  which  tends  most 
to  the  confirmation  of  Christian  truths."  7S  We 
may  say  that  he  follows  the  clues  like  a  detec- 
tive, until  he  is  assured  that  he  possesses  the 
writer's  secret.  Philological  and  other  aids  are 
subordinated  to  the  one  purpose,  the  discovery 
and  elucidation  of  the  message.  This  is  of  course 
presented  as  in  essence  a  divine  message,  with  a 
bearing  upon  all  history,  and  upon  the  reader's 
life.  The  task  that  he  sets  himself  is  by  no  means 
merely  a  verbal  exercise.  He  keeps  in  view  the 
book  as  a  whole,  the  Scriptures  as  a  whole,  and 
to  some  degree  the  body  of  human  thought.  He 
can  sum  up  the  teaching  of  Romans  in  a  sen- 
tence:  "There  is  only  one  righteousness  for 
men,  the  mercy  of  God  in  Christ;   and  this 
offered    through    the    gospel    is    received    by 
faith."  7i  But  if  necessary,  he  will  wrestle  with 
a  word  through  three  paragraphs.  He  believes 
that  at  the  best  a  "partial  ignorance"  will  re- 
main.   Besides,    no   accumulation   of  rational 
argument  without  "the  inward  testimony  of  the 
Holy  Spirit"  can  accredit  the  Scriptures  to  the 
reader.78  It  is  "the  spirit  of  the  writer"  that  is 
to  be  discovered,  and  the  Holy  Spirit  that  in- 
spired him  to  write  must  guide  the  inquirer.  In 
one  place  Calvin  remarks  that  the  Holy  Spirit 
is  not  mistakenly  called  "a  spirit  of  discernment 
[discretionis]"  7e  If  we  bear  in  mind  the  sweep 
of  his  conception,  we  may  apply  to  Calvin's 
interpretation  of  scripture  the  canon  of  J.  A. 
Ernesti :  "Interpretation  is  the  art  of  teaching 
the  real  sentiment  contained  in  any  form  of 
words,  or  of  effecting  that  another  may  derive 
from  them  the  same  idea  that  the  writer  in- 
tended to  convey."  " 

C.  Other  Reformation  Interpreters. — On  the 
Continent,  scripture  commentaries  were  nu- 
merous in  the  sixteenth  century.  Those  of 
Melanchthon,  Bucer,  Zwingli,  Oecolampadius, 
and  Bullinger  won  the  measured  approval  of 
Calvin.  He  thought  Melanchthon  too  selective, 
Bucer  too  elaborate,  Zwingli  too  discursive, 

T*  "Calvin  as  an  Interpreter  of  Holy  Scripture"  (1831), 
in  Calvin,  Commentary  on  Joshua,  tr.  Henry  Beveridge 
(Edinburgh:  Calvin  Translation  Society,  1854),  p.  350. 

™  Opera,  XLIX,  1. 

rs  Institutes  I.  7.  4. 

«  Opera,  XLVIII,  401.  On  Acts  17:11. 

IT  Principles  of  Biblical  Interpretation,  tr.  C.  H,  Terrot 
(Edinburgh:  Thomas  Clark,  1832),  I,  6. 


Oecolampadius  and  Bullinger  nearer  to  his  own 
ideal.78  The  prodigiously  productive  pen  of 
Matthias  Flacius,  in  his  Key  to  Scripture  (1567) , 
carried  forward  Lutheran  biblical  scholarship 
and  urged  fresh  labor  on  the  historical  mean- 
ing of  the  text.79  In  England  and  Scotland  the 
vernacular  Bible  flourished  but  few  commen- 
taries were  written  in  the  sixteenth  century. 
Luther's  views  were  reflected  in  Tyndale's  pref- 
aces. In  a  treatise  of  1528  Tyndale  states  that 
"Scripture  hath  but  one  sense,  which  is  the 
literal  sense,"  and  that  the  explanation  of  its 
"proverbs,  similitudes,  riddles,  and  allegories" 
falls  within  literal  interpretation.80  Anglicans 
of  the  period  generally  adopt  this  conception. 
Jewel's  (posthumous)  Commentary  on  I  and  H 
Thessalonians  offers  a  good  example  of  this 
method.  In  his  Treatise  on  Holy  Scripture 
(1570)  Jewel  stresses  the  simplicity  of  most  of 
the  Bible  and  its  unique  instructional  value 
even  for  untrained  minds.81  William  Whitaker, 
in  a  learned  treatise,  reiterates  Tyndale's  posi- 
tion just  noted,  and  enforces  the  reformers' 
contention  for  the  unique  authority  and  suffi- 
ciency of  the  Scriptures.82  Negatively  applying  a 
rigorous  doctrine  of  scripture  authority, 
Thomas  Cartwright  and  the  Elizabethan  Puri- 
tans rejected  all  nonscriptural  elements  in 
Anglican  worship  and  polity.  Hooker  assailed 
this  position,  and  advanced  the  claims  of  reason. 
He  holds  that  the  perfection  of  scripture  is 
limited  by  the  purpose  for  which  it  is  given. 
Not  every  act  which  it  does  not  enjoin  is  sin. 
Hooker  is  dissatisfied  with  Calvin's  teaching 
that  scripture  is  authenticated  only  by  the  in- 
ward witness  of  the  Spirit:  too  much  is  thereby 
left  to  private  waywardness.  We  should  test  by 
reason  what  we  are  taught  by  the  Spirit.88  In  his 
view  that  church  polity  is  not  prescribed  in  the 
Scriptures,  and  therefore  mutable,  Hooker  is  on 
the  same  ground  as  Luther:  his  subjection  of 
interpretation  to  "reason"  would  have  alarmed 
Luther  and  links  him  with  later  critical  inter- 
preters.8* * 

78  Preface  to  Romans  cited  above,  and  letter  to  Viret, 
May  19,  1540. 

T»  Clavis  Scripturae  Sacrae,  Antwerp,  1567;  cf.  Wilhelm 
Preger's  chapter  on  this  work,  Matthias  Flacius  Jllyrtcus 
und  seine  Zeit  (Erlangen:  Theodor  Biasing,  1859),  pp 
478-91. 

80  Doctrinal  Treatises  of  William  Tyndale.  Parker 
Society  Publications  (Cambridge:  University  Press,  1848), 
XLII,  304. 

«*  Works  of  John  Jewel,  Vol.  IV.  Parker  Society  Pub- 
locations  (Cambridge:  University  Press,  1850),  XXVI, 
1162-88. 

82  A  Disputation  on  the  Holy  Scripture,  1588.  Tr.  Wil- 
liam Fitzgerald,  Parker  Society  Publications  (Cambridge: 
University  Press,  1849),  XLV.  See  especially  p.  405. 

88  Laws  of  Ecclesiastical  Polity  II.  4;  III.  7, 

84  A  selected  bibliography  on  the  history  of  biblical 
interpretation  will  be  found  on  p  141.  Editors. 


126 


HISTORY  OF  THE  INTERPRETATION 

OF  THE  BIBLE 

III.    MODERN   PERIOD 
by  SAMUEL  TERRJEN 


I.  The  Rise  of  Biblical  Criticism  (ca.  1650-1800) 

A.  Textual  and  Philological  Research 

B.  The  Rationalistic  Principle  of  Interpretation 

C.  The  Beginnings  of  Literary  Analysis 

D.  The  Deists'  Explanations  of  Jesus 

E.  The  Historical  Approach  to  the  New  Testa- 
ment 

F.  A  New  Appreciation  of  Hebrew  Poetry 

II.  Literary   and   Historical  Achievements    (1800- 
1925) 

A.  The  Search  for  the  "Jesus  of  History" 

B.  The  Graf-Wellhausen  School  of  Old  Testa- 
ment Criticism 

While  Luther  and  Calvin  in  their  respective 
ways  approached  the  biblical  text  with  a  free- 
dom and  a  critical  acumen  that  were  excep- 
tional for  their  time,  they  did  not  concern  them- 
selves primarily  with  the  literary  and  historical 
problems  which  are  related  to  the  scriptural 
documents  themselves.  Although  the  Protestant 
Reformation  spurred  in  every  land  an  unprece- 
dented interest  in  the  Bible,  the  dogmatic  in- 
tolerance of  the  post-Reformation  period  was 
not  favorable  to  the  development  of  biblical 
studies.  Energies  of  the  Protestant  divines  were 
diverted  into  struggles  for  survival,  as  in  France, 
or  were  spent  in  the  most  bitter  controversies 
over  doctrinal,  ecclesiastical,  and  political  mat- 
ters, as  in  Switzerland,  the  Netherlands,  the 
German  states,  England,  and  Scotland.  In  coun- 
tries dominated  by  Roman  Catholic  power  the 
canons  of  the  Council  of  Trent  (1546)  made 
it  clear  that  any  interpretation  of  scripture  had 
to  be  tightly  fitted  into  the  Procrustean  bed  of 
the  official  dogma. 

Ever  since  the  early  days  of  the  Renaissance, 
however,  revolutionary  ideas  were  in  the  air, 
and  their  force  was  bound  to  meet  and  ulti- 


C.  New  Sources  of  Knowledge 

D.  Modern  Methods  of  Interpretation 

III.  Biblical   Exegesis   at  the  Mid-Century    (1925- 
1950) 

A.  Trends  in  Old  Testament  Study 

B.  New  Testament  Criticism  in  Transition 

C.  Toward  the  Formulation  of  a  Biblical  The- 
ology 

D.  Discussions  on  Hermeneutics 

IV.  Selected  Bibliography 


mately  to  strike  at  the  authority  of  the  Bible 
itself.  In  the  long  run  their  impact  had  not  only 
a  destructive  but  also  an  unexpectedly  construc- 
tive effect.  It  handed  back  the  Bible  to  man  and 
taught  him  how  to  recognize  its  uniqueness  and 
its  relevance. 

/.  The  Rise  of  Biblical  Criticism  (ca.  1650-1800) 

Three  cultural  developments  have  ushered 
in  the  modern  period  of  biblical  interpretation. 

In  the  first  place,  the  Ptolemaic  conception  of 
the  universe,  which  had  been  quite  satisfactorily 
harmonized  with  the  biblical  cosmogony,  was 
undermined  by  the  geographical  discoveries  of 
the  Portuguese  and  others,  and  also  by  the 
astronomical  observations  of  Copernicus  (1473- 
1543) ,  whose  theory  of  the  heliocentricity  of 
the  planetary  movements  was  condemned  by  the 
pope  as  contrary  to  scripture.  The  various  con- 
tributions of  Giordano  Bruno  (1550-1600) , 
Kepler  (1571-1630)  and  Galileo  (1564-1642) 
led  in  due  course  to  the  theory  of  universal 
gravitation  as  formulated  by  Newton  (1642- 
1727) .  Thus,  the  natural  scientists  turned  away 
from  biblical  teaching,  and  biblical  interpreters 


127 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


could  no  longer  claim  with  intellectual  integrity 
that  the  Bible  provided  a  scientifically  accurate 
picture  of  the  cosmos. 

In  the  second  place,  the  humanists'  boldness 
in  investigating  the  text,  composition,  and 
authorship  of  the  ancient  documents,  as  initi- 
ated by  Lorenzo  Valla's  devastating  work  on  the 
so-called  "Donation  of  Constantine"  (1440), 
received  a  new  impulse  from  the  epistemological 
reflections  of  philosophers  like  Bacon  (1561- 
1626)  and  Descartes  (1596-1650) .  The  use  of 
the  experimental  method,  together  with  the 
dawn  of  rationalism,  soon  influenced  the  minds 
of  the  biblical  interpreters  themselves. 

Jn  the  third  place,  the  very  intransigency  of 
Lutheran  and  Calvinistic  scholasticism  produced 
exegetical  reactions  like  those  of  Armmius 
(1560-1609),  Grotius  (1583-1645),  Calixtus 
(1586-1656),  and  others,  who  in  various  ways 
doubted  that  the  dogmatic  orthodoxy  of  their 
time  was  based  upon  a  correct  appreciation  of 
the  scriptural  meaning.  Likewise,  the  mysticism 
of  Bohrne  (1575-1624),  the  pietism  of  Spener 
(1635-1705) ,  together  with  the  stress  laid  by 
Cocceius  (1603-69)  on  the  progressive  character 
of  revelation,  these  and  other  factors  played 
their  respective  parts  in  unshackling  the  minds 
of  Protestant  theologians  from  the  strait  jacket 
of  bibliolatry.  For  more  than  three  centuries 
thereafter,  scholars  have  wrestled  with  the 
numerous  problems  of  text,  composition, 
sources,  date,  and  occasion  of  the  biblical  books. 
Such  investigations  may  have  appeared  at  times 
to  be  irrelevant;  yet  they  were  indispensable  to 
the  task  of  interpretation. 

A.  Textual  and  Philological  Research. — The 
emergence  of  the  new  era  was  marked  by  first 
attempts  at  discovering  the  exact  wording  and 
meaning  of  the  scriptural  text.  In  1538,  Elijah 
ben  Asher  (Elias  Levita)  had  shocked  the 
scholarly  world  by  proving  conclusively  that  the 
vowel  points  and  accents  of  the  Hebrew  Bible 
were  of  considerably  later  date  than  the  fixation 
of  the  consonantal  text,  none  of  them  earlier 
than  the  sixth  century  A.D.1  Several  Protestant 
Hebraists,  such  as  William  Fulke  (1538-89), 
John  Lightfoot  (1602-75),  and  John  Owen 
(1616-83),  accepted  the  thesis  of  ben  Asher  as 
valid  and  yet,  like  him,  they  continued  to  be- 
lieve in  the  verbal  inspiration  of  both  Masoretic 
text  and  pointing.  Others,  such  as  Johannes 
Piscator  (1546-1625)  and  Johannes  Buxtorf  the 
Elder  (1564-1629) ,  vainly  tried  to  defend  the 
high  antiquity  of  the  pointing.  With  courage 
and  integrity,  however,  Louis  Cappel  (1585- 
1658) ,  against  the  strong  opposition  of  his  co- 
religionists, succeeded  in  proving  not  only  that 
the  chronological  conclusions  of  ben  Asher  were 
correct,  but  also  that  the  consonantal  text  itself 
iMassdreth  hammassSreth  (Venice,  1538). 


was  far  from  reliable.2  On  the  ground  of  his 
study  of  the  Qfre  and  Kethibhy  of  the  Oriental 
and  Occidental  texts,  of  the  Samaritan  Penta- 
teuch, of  the  Septuagint  version,  of  the  Old 
Testament  quotations  in  the  New  Testament, 
and  so  forth,  Cappel  deserves  to  be  called  the 
first  textual  critic  of  the  Old  Testament;  in 
addition,  his  work  considerably  influenced  the 
literary  critics  of  subsequent  generations. 

A  similar  type  of  investigation  was  taking 
place  at  the  same  time  in  the  field  of  New  Testa- 
ment scholarship.  The  first  editions  of  the  Greek 
text  by  Erasmus  (1516),  Ximenes  ("Complu- 
tensian,"  1522) ,  and  Simon  de  Colines  (1534) 
revealed  the  fact  that  the  various  manuscripts 
differed  widely  among  themselves.  Robert 
Estienne,  in  his  third  edition  of  the  Greek  text 
(1551),  collated  for  the  first  time  not  only 
variants  from  the  fourth  (1527)  and  fifth 
(1535)  editions  of  Erasmus'  Greek  New  Testa- 
ment, together  with  the  marginal  readings  of 
the  Complutensian,  but  also  the  witness  of 
fifteen  manuscripts.  In  addition,  Theodore  of 
Beza  utilized  in  his  numerous  editions  of  the 
Greek  text  (1565,  etc.)  the  witness  of  several 
ancient  versions,  and  Lucas  Brugensis  (1580) 
noted  the  importance  of  the  citations  of  the 
New  Testament  found  in  the  patristic  litera- 
ture. The  wide  acceptance  of  the  Textus  Re- 
ceptus  (an  expression  which  in  England  referred 
to  the  1550  edition  of  Estienne  and  in  conti- 
nental Europe  to  the  1663  edition  of  the  Elzevir 
brothers)  somewhat  retarded  the  development 
of  New  Testament  textual  criticism,  but  the 
appearance  in  England  of  the  Codex  Alexan- 
drinus  (1628)  provided  a  new  impulse,  and 
the  contributions  of  Brian  Walton  (1657) , 
Etienne  Courcelles  (1658),  John  Fell  (1675), 
and  especially  John  Mill  (1707) ,  prepared  the 
ground  for  scientific  attempts  to  recapture  as 
accurately  as  possible  the  wording  of  the  origi- 
nal text. 

The  development  of  textual  criticism,  which 
raised  in  the  fields  of  both  Old  and  New  Testa- 
ments problems  of  a  specific  and  quite  unrelated 
nature,  profoundly  impressed  the  minds  of 
biblical  interpreters,  and  not  only  destroyed 
belief  in  verbal  inspiration  but  also  opened  the 
way  to  an  empirical  investigation  into  the 
authorship,  date,  composition,  and  meaning  of 
each  of  the  biblical  books. 

B.  The  Rationalistic  Principle  of  Interpreta- 
tion.-—It  is  significant  that  an  independent  ap- 
proach to  the  interpretation  of  the  Bible  was 
initiated  not  by  biblical  interpreters  them- 

2  See  especially  Arcanum  Punctationis  Revelatum 
(Leiden,  1623);  Diatriba  de  Veris  et  Antiquis  Hebroeorum 
Literis  (Amsterdam,  1645);  Cntica  Sacra  (Paris,  1650); 
Epistola  Apologetica  (Saumur,  1651). 


128 


MODERN  PERIOD 


selves,  but  by  political  philosophers  like  Hobbes 
and  Spinoza. 

In  his  Leviathan  (1651) ,  Thomas  Hobbes  im- 
plied that  the  Bible  was  not  the  Word  of  God 
but  merely  contained  the  record  of  some  men 
who  had  been  inspired  by  God.  He  wrote: 

When  God  speaketh  to  man,  it  must  be  either 
immediately;  or  by  mediation  of  another  man,  to 
whom  he  had  formerly  spoken  by  himself  immedi- 
ately. How  God  speaketh  to  a  man  immediately, 
may  be  understood  by  those  well  enough,  to  whom 
he  hath  so  spoken;  but  how  the  same  should  be 
understood  by  another,  is  hard,  if  not  impossible  to 
know.  For  if  a  man  pretend  to  me,  that  God  hath 
spoken  to  him  supernaturally,  and  immediately,  and 
I  make  doubt  of  it,  I  cannot  easily  perceive  what 
argument  he  can  produce,  to  oblige  me  to  beleeve 
it.  ...  For  to  say  that  God  hath  spoken  to  him  in 
the  Holy  Scripture,  is  not  to  say  God  hath  spoken 
to  him  immediately,  but  by  mediation  of  the 
Prophets,  or  of  the  Apostles,  or  of  the  Church,  in 
such  manner  as  he  speaks  to  all  other  Christian 
men.  .  .  .  How  then  can  he,  to  whom  God  hath 
never  revealed  his  Wil  immediately  (saving  by  the 
way  of  natural  reason)  know  when  he  is  to  obey,  or 
not  to  obey  his  Word,  delivered  by  him,  that  sayes 
he  is  a  Prophet? 8 

In  using  such  language,  Hobbes  was  in  fact 
denying  the  theological  authority  of  Scripture 
as  it  was  then  understood,  and  he  was  also 
formulating  a  rationalistic  and  subjective  prin- 
ciple of  interpretation.  He  still  maintained  that 
the  canon  referred  to  "the  Rules  of  Christian 
life"  (ch.  xxxiii),  but  he  was  interested  more 
in  the  relationship  which  should  exist  between 
the  Bible  and  "a  Christian  Commonwealth" 
than  in  the  biblical  basis  of  Christian  faith. 
However,  the  exegesis  of  Hobbes  was  often 
penetrating,  as  revealed,  for  instance,  by  his 
analysis  of  faith  and  obedience  in  their  relation 
to  salvation  (ch.  xliii)  or  by  his  statement 
that  the  immortality  of  the  soul  is  a  category 
of  grace  and  not  of  nature  (ch.  xliv) .  On  liter- 
ary and  historical  matters  he  displayed  a  cer- 
tain degree  of  independence  when  he  ex- 
pressed skepticism  over  the  Mosaic  authorship 
of  the  Pentateuch  in  its  present  form  (ch. 
xxxiii) ;  but  on  the  whole  he  was  traditionally 
conservative.  "I  see  not  .  .  .  any  reason  to 
doubt,  but  that  the  Old,  and  New  Testament, 
as  we  have  them  now,  are  the  true  Registers  of 
those  things,  which  were  done  and  said  by  the 
Prophets,  and  Apostles." 4 

Baruch  Spinoza,  in  his  famous  Tractatus 
Theologico-PoUticus  (1670),  attempted  to  lib- 
erate the  field  of  philosophical  endeavor  from 
the  claims  of  theologians  and  to  examine  crit- 

8  Reprinted  from  ed.  of  1651  (Oxford:  Clarendon  Press, 
1909),  pp.  287-88. 
*Ibid.tp.  298. 


ically  the  way  in  which  Christian  dogmatists 
used  the  Bible  in  order  to  bolster  their  doctrinal 
speculations. 

I  grant  that  they  are  never  tired  of  professing 
their  wonder  at  the  profound  mysteries  of  Holy 
Writ;  still  I  cannot  discover  that  they  teach  any- 
thing but  speculations  of  Platonists  and  Aristo- 
telians, to  which  (in  order  to  save  their  credit  for 
Christianity)  they  have  made  Holy  Writ  conform; 
.  .  .  showing  conclusively,  that  never  even  in  sleep 
have  they  caught  a  glimpse  of  Scripture's  Divine 
nature.  .  .  .  Their  belief  in  the  Bible  is  a  formal 
assent  rather  than  a  living  faith.5 

Thereupon,  Spinoza  pleaded  for  a  right  under- 
standing of  Scripture,  which  cannot  be  obtained 
without  a  careful  examination  and  close  criti- 
cism of  the  text,  and  is  identical  with  our  nat- 
ural understanding.  He  concluded,  "I  found 
nothing  taught  expressly  by  Scripture,  which 
does  not  agree  with  our  understanding.  ...  I 
became  thoroughly  convinced  that  the  Bible 
leaves  reason  absolutely  free." a  In  order  to 
grasp  the  thought  of  the  Bible,  the  interpreter 
must  look  at  any  biblical  book  exactly  as  a 
naturalist  observes  the  phenomena  of  nature, 
and  when  he  has  obtained  every  possible  bit  of 
information  concerning  its  date,  authorship, 
composition,  occasion,  and  purpose  of  writing, 
he  must  then  proceed  to  seek  the  sense  of  the 
words  themselves  without  asking  whether  or 
not  they  express  an  acceptable  truth.  Man  must 
listen  to  Scripture  rather  than  appeal  to  it. 

Although  Spinoza's  strictly  rationalistic  pre- 
suppositions constitute  obvious  limitations  to 
his  exegetical  method  and  achievements,  one 
must  admit  that  a  great  many  of  his  reflections 
are  still  valid  in  our  time.  Indeed,  some  of  his 
remarks,  such  as  those  on  the  characteristics  of 
Hebrew  expression,  and  on  the  importance  of 
understanding  Hebrew  manners  of  speech  in 
order  to  interpret  correctly  not  only  the  Old 
Testament  but  also  the  New  Testament,  are 
not  yet  fully  appreciated. 

Like  Hobbes,  Spinoza  discussed  freely  the 
Mosaic  authorship  of  the  Pentateuch;  he  also 
examined  objectively  the  literary  incoherencies, 
historical  contradictions,  and  especially  the 
chronological  difficulties  of  Genesis.  But  he  was 
not  merely  a  rationalistic  exegete. 

Those  who  look  upon  the  Bible  as  a  message 
sent  down  by  God  from  Heaven  to  men,  will  doubt- 
less cry  out  that  I  have  committed  the  sin  against 
the  Holy  Ghost  because  I  have  asserted  that  the 
Word  of  God  is  faulty,  mutilated,  tampered  with, 
and  inconsistent;  that  we  possess  it  only  in  frag- 
ments, and  that  the  original  of  the  covenant  which 

«  The  Chief  Works  of  Benedict  de  Spinoza,  tr.  R.  H, 
M.  Elwes  (London:  George  Bell  &  Sons,  1883),  I,  7-8. 
•ZbtU,  I,  9. 


129 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


God  made  with  the  Jews  has  been  lost.  However, 
I  have  no  doubt  that  a  little  reflection  will  cause 
them  to  desist  from  their  uproar:  for  not  only 
reason  but  the  expressed  opinions  of  prophets  and 
apostles  openly  proclaim  that  God's  eternal  Word 
and  covenant,  no  less  than  true  religion,  is  Divinely 
inscribed  in  human  hearts,  that  is,  in  the  human 
mind,  and  that  this  is  the  true  original  of  God's 
covenant,  stamped  with  His  own  seal,  namely,  the 
idea  of  Himself,  as  it  were,  with  the  image  of  His 
Godhood.7 

One  may  detect  a  certain  element  of  philo- 
sophical naivete*  and  of  theological  shallowness 
in  such  a  statement,  but  one  must  recognize  at 
the  same  time  that  there  is  in  it  no  trace  of 
prejudice  or  hostility. 

C.  The  Beginnings  of  Literary  Analysis. — Four 
years  after  the  publication  of  Leviathan  there 
appeared  anonymously  a  pamphlet  called  Prae- 
adamitae  (1655) ,  in  which  the  bold  thesis  was 
presented  that  mankind  had  been  created  long 
before  Adam,  and  that  the  Pentateuch  was  the 
work  of  more  than  one  author.  Isaac  de  la 
Peyrere,  who  later  acknowledged  authorship, 
was  arrested  by  the  Inquisition,  and  his  book 
was  publicly  burned.  But  his  ideas  were  not 
forgotten.  In  the  subsequent  generation  the 
French  Oratorian,  Richard  Simon,  became  the 
true  father  of  biblical  criticism.  Theologically 
conservative,  Simon  did  not  attack  the  tradi- 
tional views  of  revelation,  but  in  a  series  of 
scholarly  treatises8  he  applied  to  the  whole  of 
Scripture  the  hermeneutic  principles  of  Spinoza, 
and  he  claimed  the  right  to  investigate  the 
Bible  as  one  looks  at  any  other  literary  piece 
of  the  ancient  world. 

None  can  doubt  but  that  the  truths  contained 
in  the  Holy  Scripture  are  infallible  and  of  Divine 
authority;  since  they  proceed  immediately  from 
God,  who  in  this  has  onely  made  use  of  the  minis- 
try of  Men  to  be  his  Interpreters  So  there  is  no  per- 
son either  Jew  or  Christian,  who  does  not  acknowl- 
edge that  the  Scripture  being  the  pure  word  of  God, 
is  at  the  same  time  the  first  principle  and  foundation 
of  Religion.  But  as  Men  have  been  the  Depositories 
of  these  sacred  Books,  as  well  as  all  others,  and  their 
first  Originals  have  been  lost,  it  was  in  some  sort 
impossible,  but  that  there  must  needs  happen  some 
changes,  as  well  by  reason  of  the  length  of  time, 
as  the  carelessness  of  Transcribers.9 

Thus,  the  study  of  the  additions  or  corrections 
which  may  have  been  made  in  the  original 

t  Ibid.,  I,  165. 

*Histoire  critique  du  Vieux  Testament  (Paris,  1678); 
Histoire  critique  du  texte  du  Nouveau  Testament  (Rot- 
terdam, 1689);  Histoire  critique  des  prindpaux  commen- 
tateurs  du  Nouveau  Testament  (Rotterdam,  1689);  and 
Nouvelles  observations  sur  le  texte  et  les  versions  du 
Nouveau  Testament  (Paris,  1695). 

°A  Critical  History  of  the  Old  Testament  (London: 
Jacob  Tonson,  1682),  pp.  1-2. 


writings  is  legitimate,  although  Simon  insisted 
that  these  "alterations  ...  are  of  as  great 
Authority  as  the  rest  of  the  Text,"  and  that 
"Spinoza  has  shown  his  ignorance,  or  rather 
malice  in  crying  down  the  Authority  of  the 
Pentateuch,  by  reason  of  some  alterations  .  .  . 
therein,  without  considering  the  quality  of  the 
Authors  of  these  alterations."  10 

Simon's  purpose  was  mainly  to  study  the  Bible 
with  objectivity.  "As  for  the  Writers  of  our 
times,  whether  Catholic  or  Protestant,  I  have 
found  none  that  are  wholly  free  from  preju- 
dice." Although  he  was  not  strictly  speaking  a 
biblical  interpreter,  he  considerably  influenced 
subsequent  exegetes,  and  many  of  his  views 
have  been  vindicated.  For  instance,  he  con- 
cluded rightly  that  the  Old  Testament  did  not 
receive  its  present  form  until  after  the  Exile, 
and  he  defended  the  Hellenistic  idiom  of  the 
New  Testament  against  the  attacks  of  the  Greek 
purists. 

The  name  of  Richard  Bentley  deserves  men- 
tion, for  his  Dissertations  upon  the  Epistles  of 
Phalaris  (1699)  taught  biblical  scholars  how  to 
apply  with  the  strictest  method  the  principle  of 
internal  evidence — the  principle  according  to 
which  characteristics  of  a  document  are  induced 
from  the  observation  of  its  contradictions, 
chronological  allusions,  literary  inconsistencies, 
and  the  like.  That  principle  had  already  been 
employed,  perhaps  unwittingly,  by  Vitringa  in 
his  Observationes  sacrae  (1683) ,  and  received 
notoriety  when  Henning  Witter  separated  the 
two  stories  of  creation  in  Gen.  1-2  by  recogniz- 
ing the  presence  of  repetitions  and  contradic- 
tions within  the  two  chapters,  and  the  use  of 
different  names  for  designating  the  deity  (see 
article  "The  Growth  of  the  Hexateuch,"  pp. 
188-90) . 

The  same  observation  on  the  alternation 
of  the  names  YHWH  and  Elohim  was  one  of 
the  clues  which  led  the  physician  Jean  Astruc 
to  distinguish  in  Genesis  two  main  sources,  two 
secondary  sources,  and  the  traces  of  about 
twelve  other  documents.11  Although  many  of 
Astruc's  hypotheses  were  later  abandoned,  he 
must  receive  credit  for  initiating  the  documen- 
tary theory  of  Pentateuchal  composition. 

In  spite  of  his  claims  to  originality,  Johann 
Eichhorn 12  was  dependent  upon  Astruc's  discov- 
eries,13 and  probably  also  upon  the  lectures  of 

10  Ibid.,  preface. 

11  Conjectures  sur  les  mdmoires  originaux  dont  il  parott 
que  Moyse  s'est  sewi  pour  composer  le  livre  de  la  Genese 
(Bruxelles-    Fricx,    1753).   The  book    appeared   anony- 
mously. 

13  "Ueber  Mosis  Nachrichten  von  der  Noachischen 
Fluth,"  Repertorium  filr  Biblische  und  Morgenlandische 
Litteratur,  V  (1779),  188. 

13  See  discussion  of  Adolphe  Lods,  "Astruc  et  la  critique 
biblique  de  son  temps,"  Revue  d'Histoire  et  de 
ophie  Religieuses,  IV  (1924),  222 ff, 


130 


MODERN  PERIOD 


Johann  Michaelis,  his  own  teacher  at  Gottingen. 
Nevertheless,  Eichhorn's  work  was  epoch-making 
in  the  field  of  literary  criticism.14  At  the  same 
time,  Johann  Semler,  who  was  not  only  a  liter- 
ary critic  but  also  a  perceptive  and  extremely 
versatile  historian,  recognized  the  historical  na- 
ture of  the  development  of  the  canon,15  and 
anticipated  the  historical  method  of  the  nine- 
teenth century  by  insisting  on  the  importance  of 
circumstantial  environment  for  the  correct  exe- 
gesis of  the  biblical  books. 

D.  The  Deists'  Explanations  of  Jesus. — Mean- 
while, some  of  the  English  deists  had  attempted 
to  explain  the  life  and  teaching  of  Jesus  accord- 
ing to  their  views  of  "natural  religion."  Thomas 
Woolston    (1670-1733)    dismissed  many  of  the 
miracle  narratives  as  "most  romantick  tales." 
His  purpose  was  clearly  stated:  "I  will  shew, 
that   the   Miracles  of  healing  all  manner   of 
bodily  Diseases,  which  Jesus  was  justly  famed 
for,  are  none  of  the  proper  Miracles  of  the  Mes- 
siah, nor  are  they  so  much  as  a  good  Proof  of 
Jesus's  divine  Authority  to  found  and  introduce 
a  Religion  into  the  World." 16  His  comments 
on  the  resurrection  narratives  anticipated  the 
rationalistic  interpretations  of  Hermann  Samuel 
Reimarus,  whose  work  was  first  published  by 
Lessing    as    Fragments    des    wolfenbuttelschen 
Ungenannten   in   1774-78.  Lessing  himself  in 
Nathan  der  Weise   (1779)    sought  to  be  objec- 
tive and  made  pertinent  remarks  on  the  oral 
tradition  which  preceded  the  written  Gospels, 
but  he  did  not  penetrate  very  far  in  his  attempts 
to  understand  "the  religion  of  Christ"  as  op- 
posed to  "the  Christian  religion."  Many  of  the 
exegetical  treatises  of  this  period  reflect  the  age 
of  the  Enlightenment,  when  faith  was  deemed 
to  be  irreconcilable  with  reason.  It  would  be 
wrong  to  assume  however  that  all  the  interpre- 
ters of  the  eighteenth  century  were  representa- 
tives of  the  deistic  and  rationalistic  trends. 

E.  The  Historical  Approach  to  the  New  Tes- 
tament.— Already  in   1730  Johann  Wettstein, 
who  had  been  under  the  influence  of  Richard 
Bentley  in  Cambridge,  published  anonymously 
his  Prolegomena  ad  Novi  Testament!  graeci  edi- 
tionem  accuratissimam  (Amsterdam,  1730) ,  and 
finally  the  Greek  text  of  the  New  Testament 
(Amsterdam,  1751-52) .  In  addition  to  his  sig- 
nificant contribution   to   textual  criticism,  he 
expressed  in  his  Libelli  ad  Crisin  atque  Inter- 
pretationem  Novi   Testamenti  brilliant  views 
on  the  importance  of  the  historical  environ- 
ment for  the  correct  understanding  of  Jesus  and 
of  the  apostles.  He  hel,d  that  scriptural  inter- 
pretation should  always  respect  the  thinking 

i*  Einleitung  ins  Alte  Testament  (Leipzig,  1770-73). 

15  Abhandlung  von  freier  Untersuchung  des  Canon 
(Halle,  1771-76). 

lf  A  Discourse  on  the  Miracles  of  Our  Saviour  (6th  cd.; 
London:  Printed  for  the  Author,  1729),  p.  7. 


habits  and  the  linguistic  peculiarities  of  writers 
contemporary  with  the  authors  of  the  books 
under  investigation,  and  that  the  exegesis  of  the 
Gospels  is  greatly  helped  by  the  study  of  the 
rabbinical  literature. 

Like  Wettstein,  J.  A.  Bengel  was  a  historical 
interpreter.  The  influence  of  Pietism  had  made 
him  reject  the  wooden  exegesis  of  dogmatic 
orthodoxy,  but  he  was  not  a  rationalist.  He 
attempted  to  penetrate  to  the  human  warmth 
and  the  inner  life  of  the  biblical  writers  them- 
selves. His  Gnomon  Novi  Testamenti  in  quo 
ex  nativa  verborum  vi  simplicitas,  profunditas, 
concinnitaSf  saltibritas  sensuum  coelestium  in- 
dicate (1742),  which  influenced  John  Wesley's 
Notes  on  the  New  Testament  (1755) ,  is  a  work 
of  merit  based  on  strict  textual  and  philological 
research  and  animated  by  a  profound  devotion 
to  Christian  faith. 

F.  A  New  Appreciation  of  Hebrew  Poetry. — 
While  the  seventeenth-century  scholastics 
looked  at  the  Bible  only  from  a  dogmatic  point 
of  view  and  most  of  the  eighteenth-century  exe- 
getes  were  concerned  chiefly  with  matters  of 
text,  literary  composition,  and  rationalistic  ex- 
planations of  scripture,  a  few  men  began  to 
realize  that  a  great  deal  of  the  Old  Testament 
was  written  in  a  poetic  style,  and  that  an  exe- 
getical method  which  might  be  adequate  for 
the  prose  sections  of  the  Bible  should  be  con- 
sidered inadequate  for  the  interpretation  of 
the  poetic  books. 

As  early  as  1753,  Robert  Lowth,  bishop  of 
London,  opened  a  new  path  in  this  hitherto 
neglected  field  with  his  De  Sacra  Poesi  Hebrae- 
orum*1*  Although  Lowth  may  conceivably  have 
been  prejudiced  in  his  approach  by  a  profound 
knowledge  of  Greek  and  Latin  poetry,  he 
grasped  amazingly  well  not  only  the  technical 
aspects  of  Hebrew  prosody,  especially  the  use 
of  parallelism,  but  also  the  spirit  of  the  Hebrew 
poetic  idiom.  He  appreciated  "the  sublime  of 
[its]  passion";  he  recognized  "the  peculiar  char- 
acters of  the  different  prophets"; 18  in  brief,  he 
led  the  way  to  the  historical  concreteness  which 
characterized  biblical  exegesis  subsequently. 

It  was  Johann  Gottfried  von  Herder,  never- 
theless, who  made  in  this  domain  the  most  out- 
standing contribution,19  for  he  showed  that  the 
Hebrew  tongue  was  essentially  a  poetic  medium 
of  expression  and  that  even  the  so-called  prose 
books  of  the  Bible  had  to  be  read  as  poetically 
written.  His  analysis  of  the  traditions  of  Genesis 
or  of  the  story  of  Jonah,  in  this  respect,  steers 
subtly  away  from  traditional  literalism  without 

i7  English  tr.,  Lectures  on  the  Sacred  Poetry  of  the 
Hebrews  (London,  1787). 

«  See  his  Isaiah,  A  New  Translation  (London,  1778). 

"Fow  Geist  der  EbrSischen  Poesie  (1782-83);  tor. 
James  Marsh,  The  Spirit  of  Hebrew  Poetry  (Burlington: 
E.  Smith,  1833). 


131 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


moving  recklessly  toward  the  rocks  of  rational- 
istic subjectivism.  In  spite  of  some  exegetical 
limitations  due  to  his  illusions  on  human  na- 
ture, Herder  may  still  teach  a  great  deal  to 
biblical  interpreters  who  have  not  begun  ^  to 
understand  the  deep  interweaving  which  unites 
theological  formulation  and  poetic  diction.  In 
addition,  Herder's  relationship  to  the  romantic 
movement  enabled  him  to  appreciate  the  cul- 
ture of  the  ancient  Near  East  as  it  was  known 
in  his  time  and  this  made  him  a  forerunner  of 
the  twentieth-century  "school  of  comparative 
religion/* 

I L  Literary  and  Historical  Achievements 
(1800-1925) 

Theological  thinking  generally,  and  biblical 
interpretation  particularly,  at  least  as  far  as  the 
New  Testament  is  concerned,  were  dominated 
for  many  decades  of  the  nineteenth  century  by 
the  influence  of  Friedrich  Schleiermacher,  who 
combined  in  a  subjective  synthesis  rationalistic 
principles  of  exegesis  with  a  Christocentric 
faith.  As  the  deists  had  done,  Schleiermacher 
rejected  the  uniqueness  of  the  Bible,  both  as  a 
monument  of  literature  and  as  the  authority 
for  theological  formulation.  He  noted  that  after 
the  first  bloom  of  Christianity  had  withered, 

the  sacred  scriptures  . . .  were  regarded  as  a  finished 
codex  of  religion.  ...  All  who  still  feel  the  life  of 
religion  in  themselves  or  perceive  it  in  others,  have 
ever  protested  against  this  unchristian  proceeding. 
The  sacred  scriptures  have,  by  their  native  power, 
become  a  bible,  and  forbid  no  other  book  to  be  or 
to  become  a  bible.  Anything  written  with  like 
power  they  would  willingly  allow  to  be  associated 
with  themselves.40 

Biblical  authority  is  thus  superseded  by  "that 
which  flows  immediately  from  the  person  of 
Jesus  Christ."  Unfortunately,  Schleiermacher's 
view  of  Jesus,  as  shown  by  his  posthumously 
published  Leben  Jesu  (1864) ,  was  chiefly  a 
rationalistic  truncation  of  the  gospel  record,  in 
the  line  of  the  interpretation  of  Reimarus,  and 
in  some  respects  quite  similar  to  that  of  Paulus 
(1828).  Schleiermacher's  theology  was  largely 
responsible  for  initiating  "the  quest  for  the 
historical  Jesus."  At  the  same  time,  his  neglect 
and  almost  total  ignorance  of  Old  Testament 
religion  and  revelation21  may  be  one  of  the 
causes  for  which  nineteenth-century  interpreters 

**Reden  uber  die  Religion  (Berlin,  1799);  tr.  John 
Oman,  On  Religion  (London:  Kegan  Paul,  Trench, 
Trubner  &  Co.,  1893),  p.  249. 

**  See,  e,g.,  the  paucity  of  his  remarks  on  the  "biblical 
account  of  creation"  (Der  Christliche  Glaube  [1821-22], 
§40),  or  the  prejudiced  character  of  his  views  on  the 
"Mosaic  Law"  as  part  of  the  "divine  economy  of  salva- 
tion" (ibid.,  §13). 


allowed  the  Old  Testament  to  stand  at  the 
periphery  of  their  preoccupations  and  left  it  to 
the  literary  critics. 

A.  The  Search  for  the  "Jesus  of  History*— 
Although  an  erudite  exegete  like  Wilhelm  de 
Wette  had  warned  that  any  attempt  to  seek  a 
chronological  and  psychological  structure  in  the 
life  of  Jesus  was  bound  to  end  in  failure  on 
account  of  the  very  nature  of  the  available 
sources,  the  biographical  approach  flourished 
almost  until  the  middle  of  the  twentieth  cen- 
tury. Perhaps  the  amazing  success  of  David 
Strauss's  Leben  Jesu  (1835)  is  chiefly  respon- 
sible for  the  emergence  of  this  trend.  Strauss's 
representation  of  Jesus  as  a  wise  man  is  the 
result  of  rationalistic  oversimplification,  but 
many  of  his  views  are  remarkably  sound  and 
have  become  widely  accepted.  He  understood 
the  motives  which  played  a  part  in  the  growth  of 
the  gospel  tradition  and  the  principle  of  selec- 
tion by  which  some  details  rather  than  others 
were  kept  alive  and  amplified  in  the  memory  of 
the  early  Christians.  He  clearly  saw  the  differ- 
ences which  separate  the  Synoptics  from  the 
Fourth  Gospel,  and  he  rightly  observed  the 
eschatological  aspect  of  the  teaching  of  Jesus. 
In  many  ways  Strauss  anticipated  the  work  of 
twentieth-century  critics.38  Moreover,  the 
scandal  produced  by  his  Life  of  Jesus  had  one 
beneficial  and  lasting  effect:  it  compelled  schol- 
ars to  evaluate  anew  the  historical  significance 
of  the  Gospels  and  their  literary  interrelation- 
ship. This  type  of  study  led  to  the  formulation 
first  of  the  Marcan  hypothesis,28  and  later  of  the 
two-document  hypothesis.24  It  also  incited  re- 
search on  the  origins  of  the  whole  New  Testa- 
ment literature. 

Profoundly  influenced  by  Hegel's  philosophy 
of  history,  Ferdinand  Christian  Baur  reinter- 
preted the  birth  of  Christianity  as  the  result  of 
a  conflict  between  a  thesis  (Jewish  Christianity) 
and  an  antithesis  (pagan  Christianity)  which 
resolved  itself  in  a  second-generation  synthesis 
(Catholic  Christianity)  .SB  This  view  of  the  de- 

22  F.  C.  Conybeare,  History  of  New  Testament  Criticism 
(New  York:  G.  P.  Putnam's  Sons,  1910),  pp.  141-42.  See 
also  the  comments  of  Joachim  Wach,  Das  Verstehen. 
Grundzuge  einer  Geschichte  der  hermeneutischen  Theorie 
im  19.  Jahrhundert  (Tubingen:  J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1929), 
II,  271-76. 

*8  Initiated  by  Christian  Hermann  Weisse  in  Die 
evangelische  Geschichte  (Leipzig:  Breitkopf  &  Ha"rtel, 
1838). 

**  Formulated  chiefly  by  Heinrich  Holtzmann  in  Die 
synoptischen  Evangelienf  thr  Ursprung  und  geschicht- 
licher  Character  (Leipzig:  Wilhelm  Engelmann,  1863), 
and  Bernhard  Weiss  in  Das  Leben  Jesus  (Berlin:  W. 
Hertz,  1882).  See  article  "The  Growth  of  the  Gospels," 
Vol.  VII,  pp.  60-74. 

*s  Paulus  der  Apostel  Jesu  Christi  (Stuttgart:  Becher  & 
Miiller,  1845);  Kritische  Untersuchungen  Hbtfr  die 
kanontschen  Evangelien  (Tubingen:  L.  F.  Fues,  1847). 


132 


MODERN  PERIOD 


velopment  of  the  early  church  was  not  altogether 
wrong;  unfortunately  Baur  used  it  as  a  criterion 
for  determining  the  date  and  authenticity  of  the 
various  New  Testament  writings,  and  this 
course  led  him  to  adopt  a  rather  negative  atti- 
tude toward  the  authenticity  of  the  Pauline 
epistles,  of  which  only  Romans,  I  and  II  Corin- 
thians, and  Galatians  he  ascribed  to  the  Apostle 
to  the  Gentiles.  Consequently,  Baur's  recon- 
struction of  Pauline  theology  was  quite  frag- 
mentary. 

In  the  meantime,  the  skeptical,  imaginative, 
or  merely  "liberal"  lives  of  Jesus  appeared  in 
an  astoundingly  large  number  throughout  the 
second  half  of  the  nineteenth  century.20  The 
most  popular  among  them  was  probably  La  Vie 
de  Jesus  (1863)  by  Ernest  Renan — chiefly  a 
sentimental  romance.  "There  is  a  kind  of  in- 
sincerity in  the  book  from  beginning  to  end."  a7 
But  some  of  Renan's  later  contributions 28  often 
reveal  an  interpretative  perspicacity  based  on  a 
profound  knowledge  of  Jewish  thought  in  the 
first  century  A.D. 

The  question  of  the  Jesus  of  history  seemed 
to  float  on  stagnant  waters  until  1892,  when 
Johannes  Weiss  analyzed  Die  Predigt  Jesu  vom 
Reiche  Gottes  and  pointed  out  the  eschatologi- 
cal,  otherworldly,  transcendental  character  of 
the  kingdom  of  God  as  preached  in  the  Gospels. 
The  exclusively  eschatological  interpretation, 
however,  was  seriously  qualified  by  Wilhelm 
Bousset,29  who  called  attention  to  the  diversity 
of  forms  in  which  Jewish  apocalypticism  pre- 
sented itself  to  the  popular  mind  in  the  New 
Testament  times.  Bousset  maintained  that  hope 
in  the  proximate  advent  of  a  transcendental 
kingdom  affects  one's  attitude  to  the  present 
reality  in  such  a  thorough  fashion  that  it  be- 
comes permissible  to  speak  of  a  spiritualization 
of  eschatology.  Faith  in  God  as  a  living  and 
trustworthy  father  was  combined  in  the  teach- 
ing of  Jesus  with  a  genuine  enjoyment  of  life 
upon  this  earth.  This  emphasis  represents  his 
main  preoccupation  more  accurately  than  the 
admittedly  eschatological  bent  of  some  of  his 
sayings.  In  contrast  with  the  Jewish  apocalyp- 
tists  and  John  the  Baptist,  Jesus  fully  lived  in 
the  present  age,  and  he  hailed  the  kingdom  in 
his  experience  of  filial  communion  with  God 
and  of  brotherly  fellowship  with  men. 

Such  an  interpretation  exercised  a  peculiar 

28  See  Albert  Schweitzer,  The  Quest  of  the  Historical 
Jesus,  tr.  W.  Montgomery  (New  York:  The  Macmillan 
Co.,  1950). 

«T  Ibid.,  p.  191. 

28  See  particularly  Les  Apdtres  (1866),  Saint-Paul 
(1869),  L' Antichrist  (1873),  and  Les  Evangiles  et  la 
seconde  ge'ne'ration  chretienne  (1877). 

89  Jesu  Predigt  in  ihrem  Gegensatz  zum  Judentum 
(Gottingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht,  1892). 


appeal  to  the  average  nineteenth-century  Prot- 
estant. It  found  brilliant  exponents  and  popu- 
larizers,  none  more  so  perhaps  than  Adolf  von 
Harnack,  who  in  his  famous  lectures  entitled 
Das  Wesen  des  Christentums  (1899-1900)  re- 
duced Christianity  to  the  religion  of  Jesus  and 
that,  in  turn,  to  an  individualistic  harmony  be- 
tween God  and  man. 

The  kingdom  of  God  comes  by  coming  to  the 
individual,  by  entering  into  his  soul  and  laying 
hold  of  it.  True,  the  kingdom  of  God  is  the  rule  of 
God;  but  it  is  the  rule  of  the  Holy  God  in  the 
hearts  of  individuals;  it  is  God  Himself  in  His 
power.  From  this  point  of  view  everything  that  is 
dramatic  in  the  external  and  historical  sense  has 
vanished;  and  gone,  too,  are  all  the  external  hopes 
for  the  future.  ...  It  is  not  a  question  of  angels 
and  devils,  thrones  and  principalities,  but  of  God 
and  the  soul,  the  soul  and  its  God.30 

In  brief,  Harnack  was  attempting  to  transform 
the  gospel  into  a  mere  belief  in  "the  fatherhood 
of  God*'  and  in  "the  infinite  value  of  the  human 
soul." 

Reviewing  critically  the  whole  nineteenth- 
century  attempt  to  recapture  the  "historical 
Jesus,"  Schweitzer  sharpened  the  issue  to  an 
extreme  degree.  He  maintained  that  the  "lib- 
eral" search  led  to  the  "thoroughgoing  skepti- 
cism" of  Wilhelm  Wrede.31  Wrede  denied  that 
Jesus  ever  thought  of  himself  as  the  Messiah. 
After  his  death,  however,  the  disciples,  who  had 
become  convinced  of  his  messiahship,  created 
the  fiction  of  the  "messianic  secret"  in  order  to 
explain  how  it  had  happened  that  he  never  de- 
clared himself  publicly  as  "the  one  who  was  to 
come."  Against  this  view  Schweitzer  reacted 
violently  by  pushing  Weiss's  emphasis  to  a 
"thoroughgoing  eschatology." 8a  He  found  it 
impossible  "to  suppose  that  Jesus  could  come  to 
mean  more  to  our  time  by  entering  into  it  as  a 
man  like  ourselves  .  .  .  because  such  a  Jesus 
never  existed."  He  conceded  that  "historical 
knowledge  can  no  doubt  introduce  greater 
clearness  into  an  existing  spiritual  life,"  but 
he  added  that  "it  cannot  call  spiritual  life  into 
existence."  a8  Schweitzer,  nonetheless,  paid  high 
tribute  to  German  research  on  the  life  of  Jesus, 
and  held  it  to  be  "one  of  the  most  significant 
events  in  the  whole  mental  and  spiritual  life  of 
humanity."  8*  His  implicit  conclusion  called  for 

*<>What  Is  Christianity?  tr.  Thomas  Bailey  Saunders 
(2nd  ed.;  New  York:  G.  P.  Putnam's  Sons,  1901),  pp. 
60-61. 

81  Das  Messiasgeheimnis  in  den  Evangelien  (GSttingent 
Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht,  1901). 

M  Schweitzer,  Das  Messianitats-und  Leidensgeheimnis. 
(Tubingen:  J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1901). 

"  Quest  of  the  Historical  Jesus,  p.  $99. 

«*  Ibid. 


133 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


a  return  to  New  Testament  Christianity  as  a 
whole. 

We  are  experiencing  what  Paul  experienced.  In 
the  very  moment  when  we  were  coming  nearer  to 
the  historical  Jesus  than  men  had  ever  come  before, 
and  were  already  stretching  out  our  hands  to  draw 
Him  into  our  own  time,  we  have  been  obliged  to 
give  up  the  attempt  and  acknowledge  our  failure  in 
that  paradoxical  saying:  'If  we  have  known  Christ 
after  the  flesh  yet  henceforth  know  we  Him  no 
more."  And  further  we  must  be  prepared  to  find 
that  the  historical  knowledge  of  the  personality 
and  life  of  Jesus  will  not  be  a  help,  but  perhaps 
even  an  offence  to  religion.85 

The  religion  of  Jesus  must  make  room  once 
more  for  the  religio  de  Christo. 

B.  The  Graf-Wellhausen  School  of  Old  Testa- 
ment Criticism.  —  The  first  documentary  theory 
of  the  Hexateuch's  composition  as  it  was  popu- 
larized by  Eichhorn's  Einleitung  (1780-83)  did 
not  hold  the  field  of  scholarship  without  wide- 
spread challenge  and  much  opposition.  Rival 
hypotheses  of  various  kinds  were  proposed, 
such  as  the  conjecture  of  the  fragments,86  for 
example,  and  especially  that  of  the  comple- 
ments and  interpolations  which  was  defended 
by  Wilhelm  de  Wette.87  The  documentary  the- 
ory, however,  slowly  regained  ground  under  the 
various  modifications  introduced  by  Hermann 
Hupfeld,38  who  mistakenly  continued  to  main- 
tain that  the  First  Elohist  (later  known  as  the 
Priestly  Code)  was  the  earliest  of  the  docu- 
ments. The  postexilic  dating  of  the  Priestly 
Code  was  first  recognized  by  £douard  Reuss  in 
1833,  but  was  finally  established  by  Karl  Graf,89 
and  endorsed  by  Abraham  Kuenen  and  August 
Kayser/0  The  preparatory  work  was  thus  ac- 
complished when  Julius  Wellhausen  came  on 
the  scene  and  gave  the  classical  exposition  of 
the  Hexateuch's  literary  origin  and  develop- 
ment.*1 

As  a  result  of  Wellhausen's  lucid  and  in  many 
ways  brilliant  demonstration*8  which,  like 


&td.,p.  401. 

88  See  article  "The  Growth  o!  the  Hexateuch,"  pp. 
188-89;  also,  Joseph  Coppens,  The  Old  Testament  and 
the  Critics,  tr.  Edward  A.  Ryan  and  Edward  W.  Tribbe 
(P#erson,  N.  J.:  St.  Anthony  Guild  Press,  1942),  pp. 
II  ff. 

87  De  Wette  remained  famous  for  having  applied  the 
formula  of  "pious  fraud"  to  the  seventh-century  compo- 
sition and  discovery  of  the  Deuteronomic  Code. 

88  Die  Quellen  der  Genesis  und  die  Art  ihrer  Zusam* 
mensetzung  (Berlin:  Wiegandt  &  Grieben,  1855). 

*9Die  geschichtlichen  Bucher  des  Alien  Testaments 
(Leipzig:  T.  O.  Weigel,  1866). 

*°Das  vorexiltsche  Such  der  Urgeschichte  Israels  und 
seine  Eruteiterungen  (Strassburg:  C.  F.  Schmidt,  1874). 

41  Die  Composition  des  Hexateuchs  (Berlin:  G.  Relmer, 
1885;  first  published  in  the  form  of  articles  in  1876-77). 

"See  especially  Israelitische  und  Jildische  Geschichte 
(3rd  ed.;  Gutersloh:  G.  Reimer,  1897),  Eng.  tr.,  Sketch 
of  the  History  of  Israel  and  Judah  (London:  Black, 


Baur's  work  on  the  early  church,  reveals  the 
influence  of  Hegelian  philosophy,  a  radically 
new  conception  of  Israel's  history  dawned  on 
the  mind  of  the  exegetes.  While  the  Yahwist 
and  Elohist  documents  were  ascribed  to  a  rela- 
tively early  date,  the  Law  as  a  whole  came  to  be 
considered  no  longer  as  "the  starting  point  for 
the  history  of  ancient  Israel,"  but  rather  as  a 
priestly  program  conceived  for  the  restoration 
of  postexilic  Judaism.  It  was  felt  that  nothing 
could  be  known  with  certainty  about  the  his- 
tory and  religion  of  Israel  before  the  time  of 
David.  Ignoring  the  theological  structure  which 
undergirds  the  Yahwist's  conception  of  history, 
critics  assumed  that  Israel's  faith  in  Yahweh 
began  and  developed  according  to  normal  evo- 
lutionary processes,  such  as  those  which  are 
observable  among  all  primitive  societies.  Conse- 
quently, traces  of  animism,  totemism,  poly- 
daemonism,  and  polytheism  were  culled  from 
the  descriptions  of  rites  and  beliefs  associated 
by  the  biblical  writers  with  the  Hebrew  fathers, 
and  this  composite  picture  of  "popular  religion" 
was  presented  as  corresponding  adequately  to 
the  normative  Yahwism  of  the  early  period.  The 
"genius"  of  the  eighth-  and  seventh-century 
prophets  raised  the  practical  monolatry  of  Yah- 
weh to  the  level  of  a  consciously  formulated 
henotheism,  which  then  was  purified  and  made 
triumphant  in  the  form  of  ethical  monotheism 
under  the  impact  of  the  Babylonian  exile.  The 
Psalter  and  the  wisdom  literature  were  ascribed 
en  bloc  to  postexilic  Judaism,  at  a  time  when  re- 
ligious individualism  had  at  last  conquered  the 
consciousness  of  the  Second  Temple  worshipers 
and  teachers.  Indeed,  many  of  the  psalms  were 
thought  to  have  been  inspired  by  the  Macca- 
bean  rebellion. 

Such  a  reconstruction  of  the  development  of 
Old  Testament  religion,  partial  and  unsatis- 
factory as  it  may  have  been  at  many  points, 
produced  a  remarkable  result:  it  created  an 
unprecedented  interest  in  the  personalities  of 
the  prophets.  For  the  first  time  the  figures  of 
Amos,  Hosea,  Isaiah,  and  their  successors 
emerged  concretely  and  powerfully  against  the 
vivid  background  of  economic,  political,  psycho- 
logical, and  sociological  forces.  While  the  thun- 
ders and  the  flames  of  Sinai  were  lost  in  the 
dimness  of  the  past,  the  prophets  came  into 
their  own  as  living  men  of  history.48 

To  ignore  or  to  underestimate  the  signifi- 
cance of  the  literary  and  historical  achievements 

1891);  and  Prolegomena  zur  Geschichte  Israels  (3rd  ed*; 
Berlin:  Georg  Reimer,  1886),  tr.  J.  Sutherland  Black  and 
Alan  Menzies,  Prolegomena  to  the  History  of  Israel 
(Edinburgh:  A.  &  C.  Black,  1885)  See  also  article  "The 
Growth  of  the  Hexateuch/'  pp.  189-90. 

*"  See  the  works  of  C.  H.  Cornill,  W.  Robertson  Smith, 
George  Adam  Smith,  Bernhard  Duhm,  et  el 


134 


MODERN  PERIOD 


of  the  Graf-Wellhausen  school  would  constitute 
a  grievous  error.  In  spite  of  many  modifications 
of  detail,  the  documentary  hypothesis  still 
stands  in  its  general  lines  after  years  of  minute 
analysis  and  inquiry.  However,  the  conception 
of  the  origin  and  development  of  Israel's  reli- 
gion, and  especially  of  the  nature  of  the  Yah- 
wistic  faith,  which  was  proposed  by  Wellhausen 
and  his  disciples,  soon  suffered  profound  revi- 
sions. 

C.  New  Sources  of  Knowledge. — Both  in  the 
field  of  the  Old  Testament  and  in  that  of  the 
New  Testament  the  acquisition  of  a  vast 
amount  of  archaeological  data  produced  a  con- 
siderable enlargement  of  the  picture  of  the 
ancient  world,  against  which  stood  out  in  a  new 
light  the  life  of  Israel  and  of  the  early  church. 
Modern  archaeology  of  the  ancient  Near  East 
began  when  Napoleon  Bonaparte  brought  a 
hundred  artists  and  scholars  to  the  sleeping 
ruins  of  the  Nile  Valley  in  1798.  The  decipher- 
ing of  hieroglyphics  by  Champollion  in  1822, 
and  of  the  cuneiform  script  by  Rawlinson  in 
1846,  inaugurated  the  manifold  and  complex 
work  of  interpreting  thousands  of  texts  which 
were  soon  being  unearthed  from  the  sands  of 
Egypt  and  Mesopotamia.  This  development  led 
to  a  new  conception  of  the  classical  Orient.  The 
Bible  could  no  longer  be  considered  as  the 
earliest  book  of  mankind's  culture.  Its  religion 
could  not  any  more  be  viewed  in  its  "splendid 
isolation." 

Meanwhile,  in  1838  and  1852,  Edward  Robin- 
son surveyed  systematically  the  western  lands 
of  Asia  Anterior  and  laid  the  foundations  of 
biblical  geography/4  Scientific  research  in  bib- 
lical Hebrew,  which  had  been  inaugurated  by 
Wilhelm  Gesenius,*8  was  advancing  steadily 
through  the  study  of  comparative  Semitic  phi- 
lology which  the  archaeological  discoveries  of 
Mesopotamian  and  other  documents  made  pos- 
sible on  a  scale  hitherto  unknown.*8  Likewise, 
New  Testament  exegetes  became  aware  of  the 
Aramaic  background  of  the  language  used  in 
the  Gospels  and  Acts,  especially  through  the 
investigations  of  Emil  Kautzsch  and  Gustaf 
Dalman.47  From  Adolf  Deissmann  *8  and  others 

*4  Biblical  Researches  in  Palestine ,  Mount  Sinai  and 
Arabia  Petraea  (New  York:  J.  Leavitt,  1841,  etc). 

**  Hebraisches  .  .  .  Handwbrterbuch  (1812,  etc.); 
Hebraische  Grammatik  (1813,  etc.);  Thesaurus  Philo- 
logicus  Criticus  Linguae  Hebraeae  et  Chaldaeae  Veteris 
Testamenti  (1829-53). 

"See  article  "The  Language  of  the  Old  Testament," 
pp.  220-32. 

47  Grammatik  des  judisch-palSstinischen  AramSisch 
(Leipzig:  J.  C.  Hinrichs,  1894);  Die  Worte  Jesu  (Leip- 
zig: J.  C.  Hinrichs,  1898). 

*8  Bibelstudien  (Marburg:  N.  G.  Elwert,  1893);  and 
especially  Licht  vom  Osten  (Tubingen:  J.  C,  B.  Mohr, 
1908),  tr.  Lionel  R.  M.  Strachan,  Light  from  the  Ancient 
East  (London:  Hodder  &  Stoughton,  1910). 


they  also  learned  to  analyze  the  Greek  of  the 
New  Testament  in  the  light  of  a  better  appre- 
ciation of  the  dialects  and  especially  of  the  Hel- 
lenistic tongue  as  it  came  to  light  through  the 
discovery  of  papyri  and  ostraca.*9  Perhaps  Deiss- 
man's  insistence  on  the  popular  character  of  the 
koine,  necessary  as  this  was,  suffered  from  a 
certain  degree  of  exaggeration  and  did  not  do 
full  justice  to  the  scholarly  modes  of  expression 
common  in  the  Jewish  literature  with  which  at 
least  some  of  the  New  Testament  writers  were 
apparently  acquainted. 

The  importance  of  the  rabbinical  teaching 
and  preaching  for  the  exegesis  of  the  Gospels, 
which  had  been  long  ago  sensed  by  John  Light- 
foot,50  received  in  due  course  a  wide  and  scruti- 
nizing attention  that  led  to  the  outstanding  work 
of  Hermann  L.  Strack  and  Paul  Billerbeck.61 

Finally,  efforts  to  restore  the  primitive  text 
of  the  Bible  proceeded  on  a  broad  scope  and  at 
an  accelerated  pace.  Tischendorf's  discovery  in 
1844  of  the  Codex  Sinaiticus  and  the  labors  of 
many  other  textual  critics 5S  led  to  the  establish- 
ment of  scientifically  edited  texts  of  the  Hebrew 
Bible,  the  Septuagint,  and  the  Greek  New  Tes- 
tament. 

Thus,  archaeological  excavations,  with  their 
cultural  and  particularly  their  epigraphic  yields, 
as  well  as  research  in  comparative  philology  and 
textual  criticism,  brought  interpreters  more 
closely  than  ever  to  the  literal  meaning  of  the 
biblical  writings.  The  addition  of  these  new 
sources  of  knowledge  was  largely  responsible  for 
the  inception  of  new  methods  of  interpretative 
investigation. 

D.  Modern  Method?  of  Interpretation. — In 
contrast  to  mere  literary  critics  who  were  inter- 
ested almost  exclusively  in  the  composition  of 
the  scriptural  documents  and  the  analysis  of 
their  respective  sources  and  too  little  concerned 
with  the  meaning  of  their  contents,  several 
scholars  felt  the  need  of  adapting  or  refining 
the  old,  and  of  devising  new  methods  of  ap- 
proach to  the  Scriptures.  They  turned  to  the 
history  of  the  oral  tradition,  the  comparative 
study  of  religion  or  history  of  religion,  and  the 
analysis  of  form  or  form  criticism.  The  cautious 
application  of  these  methods  produced  a  harvest 
of  fruitful  results  which,  in  the  mid-century, 
were  still  being  formulated  and  evaluated. 

In  the  field  of  Old  Testament  study  Hermann 

*•  See  article  "The  Language  of  the  New  Testament," 
Vol.  VII,  pp.  43-59. 

*°Horae  Hebraicae  et  Talmudicae  (Cambridge  and 
London,  1658-78). 

•x  Kommentar  zum  Neuen  Testament  aus  Talmud  ttnd 
Midrasch  (Munich:  C,  H.  Beck,  1922-28). 

Ba  See  articles  "The  Text  and  Ancient  Versions  of  the 
Old  Testament,"  pp.  46-62;  "The  Text  and  Ancient 
Versions  of  the  New  Testament,"  pp.  72-83. 


135 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


Gunkel,58    followed    by    Hugo    Gressmann,84 
Alfred  Jeremias 56  and  others,  while  paying  high 
tribute  to  the  accomplishments  of  literary  criti- 
cism, realized  that  Wellhausen  and  his  school 
were  too  passively  subservient  to  the  literary 
documents  alone  in  their  reconstruction  of  reli- 
gious history.  Gunkel  rightly  maintained  that 
rites,  customs,  and  even  beliefs  which  are  re- 
corded in  relatively  late  sources  may  actually 
belong  to  an  extremely  early  age.  He  therefore 
endeavored  to  reach  the  contents  and—when- 
ever possible-— the  history  of  the  oral  tradition 
which  lay  behind  the  written  documents  them- 
selves.  In   addition,   just   as   Wellhausen   had 
studied  the  religion  of  the  pre-Islamic  Arabs,68 
Gunkel  and  his  disciples  analyzed  the  Egyptian, 
Babylonian,  and  Persian  religions  in  an  attempt 
to  discover  the  foreign  influences  which  may 
have  played  upon  the  development  of  Old  Tes- 
tament  religion.    By  so    doing   they  brought 
sharply  into  focus  the  way  in  which  Israel,  as 
part  of  the  ancient  world,  was  constantly  in 
danger   of   being   corrupted   by    surrounding 
paganism  and  yet  asserted  against  it  the  dis- 
tinctive power  of  her  own  faith. 

Finally,  Gunkel  paid  particular  attention  to 
the  literary  forms  of  the  Old  Testament  writ- 
ings, and  by  initiating  the  method  of  form 
criticism  made  his  most  brilliant  contribution. 
He  showed  conclusively  that  Hebrew  literature 
followed  precise  aesthetic  patterns  or  structures 
characterizing  specific  literary  categories  or 
genres  (Gattungeri) ,  which  did  not  emerge  in 
vacua  but  were  born  over  the  centuries  from 
the  requirements  of  a  "life  situation"  (Sitz  im 
Leben) .  Naturally,  the  method  of  form  criticism 
01  form  analysis  is  not  separate  in  its  applica- 
tion from  the  method  of  "history  of  religion." 
Gunkel's  study  of  the  Psalter,  for  instance,  re- 
vealed that  an  objective  classification  of  the 
psalms  into  hymns,  laments,  royal  songs,  and 
so  forth,  may  be  obtained  from  the  investiga- 
tion of  the  poetic  structure  and  also  from  a 
comparison  with  the  cultic  poems  of  Egypt  and 
Mesopotamia.  The  combined  application  of  the 

"See  especially  Schopfung  and  Chaos  in  Urzeit  und 
Endzeit  (Gottingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht,  1895, 
etc.);  Genesis  ubersetit  und  erklart  (Gottingen:  Vanden- 
hoeck fc  Ruprecht,  1901,  etc.);  Einleitung  in  die  Psalmen, 
ed.  J.  Begrich  (G6ttingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht, 
1933). 

«*  Altorientalische  Texte  und  Bilder  zum  Alien  Testa- 
ments (Tubingen:  J,  C.  B  Mohr,  1909,  etc.);  Der 
Ursprung  der  israelitisch-judischen  Eschatologie  (Got- 
tingen: Vandenhoeak  &  Ruprecht,  1905);  Der  Messias 
(Gottingen:  Vandenhoeck  fe  Ruprecht,  1929). 

ssDas  Alte  Testament  im  Lichte  des  alten  Orients 
(Leipzig:  J.  G.  Hinrichs,  1904,  etc.),  tr.  C.  L.  Beaumont, 
The  Old  Testament  in  the  Light  of  the  Ancient  East 
(London:  Williams  &  Norgate,  1911). 

88  See  especially  Reste  Arabischen  Heidentums  (Berlin: 
Georg  Reimer,  1887,  etc.). 


two  methods  revitalized  the  exegesis  of  the 
psalms  by  showing  that  they  answered  precise 
needs  in  concrete  environments. 

Gunkel  himself  made  it  clear  that  his  interest 
in  the  history  of  the  ancient  religions  and  in 
the  form  criticism  of  the  Old  Testament  books 
was  dependent  upon  his  belief  in  the  Christian 
significance  of  the  Bible  as  a  whole. 

Before  our  eyes,  uplifting  us  and  bearing  us 
onward,  stood  a  wondrous  picture — the  Religion  of 
the  Bible  in  all  its  glory  and  dignity.  We  had  come 
to  see  that  such  a  phenomenon  can  be  under- 
stood only  when  it  is  understood  in  its  history,  in  its 
growth  and  becoming.  It  seemed  to  us  to  be  a  sub- 
lime task  to  understand  this  religion  in  its  depth  and 
breadth,  to  trace  it  through  its  winding  course,  to  be 
present  at  the  birth  of  its  deepest  thoughts,57 

The  expression  "to  be  present  at*'  reveals  a 
certain  historical  warmth,  but  also  detachment, 
for  it  has  nothing  to  do  with  "being  personally 
involved  in."  Although  Gunkel  acknowledged 
that  if  "the  Bible  [ceased]  to  be  the  foundation 
of  the  Christian  Church,  Bible  scholarship 
would  also  receive  a  fatal  blow,"  5S  he  was  not 
concerned  directly  with  the  theological  rele- 
vance of  the  Hebrew  Scripture  for  Christians. 

Methods  of  comparative  religion  and  of  form 
criticism  were  soon  applied  also  to  the  New 
Testament  writings.  The  pioneering  works  of 
Franz  Cumont50  and  James  Frazer60  on  the 
transformations  wrought  in  Greco-Roman  cul- 
ture by  the  seemingly  irresistible  attraction  of 
the  Oriental  religions,  together  with  the  results 
of  Richard  Reitzenstein's  research  on  the  Her- 
metic literature,61  led  to  a  re-evaluation  of  the 
way  in  which  the  Christian  gospel,  especially  in 
its  Pauline  form,  was  preached  to  the  Mediter- 
ranean world.  Pursuing  the  superficial  appear- 
ances of  the  parallels,  such  as  in  Paul's  use  of 
technical  terms  common  in  the  mystery  cults 
or  in  his  emphasis  on  the  rites  of  baptism  and 
of  a  sacramental  meal,  some  critics  viewed  the 
phenomenon  of  early  Christianity  as  nothing 
more  than  another  mystery  religion.  Wrote 
Alfred  Loisy: 

The  scheme  of  Messianic  salvation,  of  which  the 
Galilean  prophet  thought  himself  the  destined  head, 
became  a  myth  of  universal  salvation.  .  .  .  [Jesus] 
was  a  saviour-god  .  .  .  :  like  Adonis,  Osiris,  and 
Attis  he  had  died  a  violent  death,  and  like  them 

BT"The  'Historical  Movement'  in  the  Study  of  Reli- 
gion," The  Expository  Times,  XXXVIII  (1926-27),  533. 

w  Ibid.,  p.  534 

**  Les  religions  orientates  dans  le  paganisme  romain 
(Paris:  Ernest  Leroux,  1907). 

e°  The  Golden  Bough,  Part  III,  The  Dying  God,  Part 
IV,  Adonis  Attis  Osiris  (London:  Macmillan  &  Co.,  1911, 
1914). 

**•  We  hellenistischen  Mysterienreligionen  (Leipzig:  B. 
G.  Teubner,  1910). 


136 


MODERN  PERIOD 


he  had  returned  to  life;  like  them,  he  had  prefig- 
ured in  his  lot  that  of  the  human  beings  who 
should  take  part  in  his  worship,  and  commemorate 
his  mystic  enterprise;  like  them,  he  had  prede- 
termined, prepared,  and  assured  the  salvation  of 
those  who  became  partners  in  his  passion.62 

Yet,  many  adherents  of  the  religionsgeschicht- 
liche  Schule  came  to  adopt  a  more  balanced 
conception  of  the  part  played  by  Hellenistic 
syncretism  in  the  New  Testament  interpretation 
of  the  death  and  resurrection  of  Christ,  espe- 
cially after  Deissmann88  re-emphasized  cau- 
tiously the  influence  exercised  over  Pauline 
thought  by  the  specifically  Jewish  element. 

The  need  to  study  the  forms  of  the  oral  tradi- 
tion that  lay  behind  the  written  Gospels  had 
already  been  sensed  by  Eichhorn  (1794) ,  Krum- 
macher  (1805) ,  and  especially  Gieseler  (1818). 
It  was,  however,  primarily  on  account  of 
Gunkel's  brilliant  application  of  the  form  crit- 
ical method  to  the  study  of  the  Genesis  sagas 
(1901)  that  New  Testament  scholars  turned 
their  attention  to  the  history  of  the  gospel  tra- 
dition.6* Martin  Dibelius,  who  had  prepared 
the  way  in  1911  by  his  studies  on  John  the 
Baptist,85  applied  the  new  method  on  an  in- 
clusive scale,66  simultaneously  with  Karl  Ludwig 
Schmidt,67  and  the  work  of  these  two  scholars 
was  soon  followed  by  the  contribution  of  Ru- 
dolf Bultmann.68  Accepting  the  artificial  char- 
acter of  the  Marcan  framework,69  as  well  as  the 
fragmentary,  independent,  and  self-contained 
nature  of  the  stories  about  Jesus  which  cir- 
culated among  the  early  Christians,  form  critics 
attempted  to  classify  these  stories  according  to 
their  respective  "forms"  as  sayings,  paradigms, 
wonder  tales,  legends,  and  myths.  They  showed 
how  these  forms  arose  and  were  preserved  to 
satisfy  the  homiletical  and  practical  needs  of 

«*  "The  Christian  Mystery,"  The  Hibbert  Journal,  X 
(1911),  51.  See  also  Wilhelm  Bousset,  Kyrios  Christos 
(Gflttingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht,  1913,  etc.). 

«*Paulus  (Tubingen:  J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1911,  etc.),  tr. 
Lionel  R.  M.  Strachan,  Paul  (London:  Hodder  &  Stough- 
ton,  1912). 

e*  See  Maurice  Goguel,  "Une  nouvelle  e"cole  de  critique 
eVange'lique,"  Revue  de  I'Histoire  des  Religions,  XCIV 
(1926),  114-60. 

88  Die  urchristliche  Uberlieferung  uber  Johannes  dem 
TaUfer  (G6ttingen:  Vandenhoeck  fc  Ruprecht,  1911). 

"Die  Formgeschichte  des  Evangeliums  (Tubingen: 
J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1919,  etc.),  tr.  Bertram  Lee  Woolf,  From 
Tradition  to  Gospel  (New  York:  Charles  Scribner's  Sons, 
1935). 

«T  Die  Rahmen  der  Geschichte  Jesu  (Berlin:  Trowtech 
&  Sohn,  1919). 

**Die  Erforsckung  der  synoptischen  Evangelien  (G8t- 
tingen:  A.  Topelmann,  1925). 

e9A  fact  which  had  long  been  recognized  by  such 
scholars  as  Johannes  Weiss  (Das  alteste  Evangelium  [G8t- 
tingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht,  1901])  and  Maurice 
Goguel  (L'Zvangile  de  Marc  [Paris:  Ernest  Leroux, 
1909]). 


the  early  communities  (cf.  Gunkel's  Sitz  im 
Leben) .  Furthermore,  they  claimed  that  the 
original  tradition  could  be  recovered  through 
the  study  of  the  laws  by  which  the  forms  were 
transmitted.  Unfortunately  the  classifications 
proposed  by  the  various  leaders  of  the  school 
are  far  from  identical,  and  they  are  based  not 
exclusively  on  considerations  of  form,  but  on 
the  analysis  of  the  contents  as  well.  The  claims 
to  objectivity  made  by  the  exponents  of  form 
criticism  are  therefore  somewhat  exaggerated. 
In  addition,  form  critics  have  made  a  number 
of  gratuitous  assumptions  concerning  the  needs 
and  social  requirements  of  the  various  Christian 
groups.  Finally,  they  have  shown  a  tendency  to 
neglect  almost  completely  the  results  of  literary 
criticism  itself.  In  spite  of  these  and  other 
limitations,70  the  form  critics  have  rendered  a 
great  service  to  exegesis  by  insisting  rightly  on 
the  theological  and  especially  kerygmatic,  rather 
than  the  primarily  historical,  purpose  of  the 
gospel  writers. 

It  was  precisely  at  this  same  time  that  the 
theology  of  Karl  Earth  began  to  sweep  Europe.71 
While  exegetes  were  slowly  realizing  that  both 
the  Old  Testament  and  the  New  Testament 
were  the  products  of  faith,  systematic  theolo- 
gians were  suddenly  returning  to  the  Bible  in 
an  attempt  to  recover  its  authority  by  listening 
through  its  pages  to  the  perennial  "word  of 
God."  The  confluence  of  these  two  originally 
independent  trends  characterizes  the  contempo- 
rary period  of  interpretation. 

HI.  Biblical  Exegesis  at  the  Mid-Century 
(1925-1950) 

Technical  research  in  archaeology,  in  philol- 
ogy, in  textual,  literary,  and  form  criticism  pro- 
duced in  these  years  such  an  enormous  amount 
of  material 72  that  most  biblical  interpreters  be- 
came extraordinarily  specialized.  Many  of  the 
most  significant  contributions  dealt  with  frag- 
mentary problems  of  translation  and  interpreta- 
tion of  isolated  passages.  It  is  thus  difficult  and 
somewhat  reckless  to  characterize  the  prevailing 
trends.  Still,  it  is  possible  to  observe  a  threefold 
tendency:  (a)  for  some  books  of  the  Bible,  at 
least,  a  return  to  relatively  conservative  con- 
clusions on  matters  of  composition  and  date; 
(&)  an  increased  readiness  to  accept  the  histor- 
ical reliability  of  the  documents;  and  (c)  a  re- 

™see  Vincent  Taylor's  critique  of  the  form  critical 
method  in  The  Formation  of  the  Gospel  Tradition 
(London:  Macmillan  &  Co.,  1933). 

*i  Earth's  Der  Romerbrief  (Miinchen:  C,  Kaiser,  1923), 
with  its  brilliant  insights,  is  more  an  illustration  of 
theological  eisegesis  than  a  monument  of  exegesis. 

"See  among  others  Harold  R.  Willoughby,  ed.,  The 
Study  of  the  Bible  Today  and  Tomorrow  (Chicago: 
University  of  Chicago  Press,  1947). 


137 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


born  awareness  of  the   primarily   theological 
intentions  of  the  biblical  writers. 

A.  Trends  in  Old  Testament  Study.— The 
documentary  hypothesis  of  Hexateuchal  compo- 
sition triumphantly  survived  the  attacks  of  the 
previous  four  decades.73  With  minor  differences 
as   regards   the   contents,    characteristics,    and 
dates  of  the  various  strata,7*  the  majority  of 
scholars  accepted  on   the  whole   the  literary 
results  of  the  Graf-Wellhausen  analysis.75  Most 
o£  the  exegetes  were  pursuing  the  study  of  the 
oral  traditions  along  the   lines  indicated  by 
Gunkel,  but  they  were  also  aware  of  the  the- 
ological purpose  which  animated  the  editors 
and  redactors  of  these  traditions.  Gerhard  von 
Rad,™  and  to  a  limited  extent  Martin  Noth,TT 
have  shown  that  the  Yahwist,  although  he  was 
the  earliest  writer  of  the  Hexateuch  (the  date  of 
J,  incidentally,  for  various  reasons  was  being 
pushed  back  from  850-750  to  ca.  950  B.C.  or 
even  earlier) ,  conceived  his  work  as  the  history 
of  the  "grand  design  of  salvation,"  and  he  tried 
to   substantiate   the   old   covenantal   creeds — 
represented,  for  instance,  by  the  archaic  liturgy 
of  Deut.  26:5-9 — by  collecting  a  multitude  of 
originally  independent  traditions  and  by  or- 
ganizing  them   into    a    structure    of   Heihge- 
schichte.  He  preached  on  the  one  hand  the 
power  of  Yahweh,  his  saving  grace  and  ethical 
requirements,  and  on  the  other  hand,  the  sinful 
nature  of  man  and  the  mission  of  Israel.  The 
Yahwist's  categories  of  thinking  were  therefore 
strictly  theological,  for  he  dealt  first  and  last 
with  God's  purpose  in  mankind's  history.  In 
this  respect  exegesis  in  the  mid-century  divorced 
itself  from  the  Wellhausenian  reconstruction  of 
Israel's  religion,   and  while   it  recognized  of 
course  the  existence  of  a  development  through- 
out the  centuries  of  biblical  life,  it  refused  a 
priori  to  associate  early  expressions  of  belief 
with   a  so-called   "primitive"   theology  which 
had  to  be  superseded  by  the  so-called  "insights" 
T*  Especially  those  of  Klostermann  (1908-12),  Eerdmans 
(1908-12),   Wiener    (1910-12),    Naville    (1921),    Sanda 
(1924),  D.  B.  Macdonald  (1933),  Cassuto   (1934),  and 
Olmstead   (1943).  The  existence  of  the  Elohist,  which 
Volz  (1933)  and  Rudolph  (1938)  had  tried  to  discard, 
appears  to  be  vindicated. 

"Proposed  respectively  by  Eissfeldt  (1922),  Morgen- 
stern  (1927),  and  Pfeiffer  (1930-41). 

TB  See  Aage  Bentzen,  Introduction  to  the  Old  Testament 
(Copenhagen,  G.  E.  C.  Gad,  1948);  Artur  Weiser,  Ein- 
leitung  in  das  Alte  Testament  (Gottingen:  W.  Kohlham- 
mer,  1949);  Adolphe  Lods,  Histoire  de  la  literature 
hfbraique  et  juive  (Paris:  Payot,  1950);  also  Cuthbert  A. 
Simpson,  The  Early  Traditions  of  Israel  (New  York: 
The  Maonillan  Co.,  1948). 

™Das  formgeschichtliche  Problem  des  Hexateuch 
(Stuttgart:  W.  Kohlhammer,  1938);  Deuteronomium- 
Studien  (Gottingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht,  1947); 
Das  erste  Bitch  Mose  (G6ttingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ru- 
precht,  1949). 

it  Uberlieferungsgeschichte  des  Pentateuch  (Stuttgart: 
W.  Kohlhammer,  1948). 


of  the  great  prophets.78  The  tendency  was  to 
emphasize,  not  from  dogmatic  presuppositions, 
but  from  the  understanding  of  the  texts  them- 
selves in  the  light  of  the  archaeological  evi- 
dence,70 the  uniqueness  of  Yahwism  as  com- 
pared to  the  other  religions  of  the  ancient  Near 
East,  and  the  unity  of  the  Old  Testament  revela- 
tion of  God  in  spite  of  its  diversity. 

Likewise,  if  the  antiquity  of  the  oral  tradi- 
tions concerning  the  pre-Mosaic  age,  for  in- 
stance, became  apparent  from  an  analysis  of  the 
forms  in  which  they  have  been  preserved,  the 
question  of  their  historical  validity  was  re- 
opened on  a  new  basis.  The  exact  chronology 
of  the  patriarchal  age  was  still  a  matter  of  de- 
bate, but  extensive  research80  tended  to  show 
that  the  patriarchal  traditions  are  not  the  prod- 
uct of  late  imagination,  for  they  correspond 
remarkably  well  to  the  Sitz  im  Leben  which  is 
revealed  by  extrabiblical  documentation.  Such 
views  were  by  no  means  acceptable  to  all,  but 
the  very  fact  that  they  were  presented  seriously 
by  responsible  critics  who  were  not  prone  to 
use  archaeology  for  the  sake  of  defending  fun- 
damentalism or  any  kind  of  dogmatic  ortho- 
doxy constituted  a  strong  reinforcement  of  the 
trend  toward  historical  conservatism.  Moreover, 
it  became  increasingly  clear  that  the  covenantal 
requirements  of  early  Yahwism  were  primarily 
of  a  theological  and  ethical  nature  in  contra- 
distinction to  the  ritual  characteristics  of  the 
agrarian  syncretism  which  corrupted  the  popu- 
lar religion  of  Israel  after  the  conquest. 

The  work  of  the  prophets  was  thus  brought 
into  a  new  light.  They  inherited  their  "ethical 
monotheism"  from  their  predecessors,  but  they 
deepened  its  implications  under  the  stress  of 
historical  crisis.  It  seems  that  Amos  and  his 
successors  built  upon  the  theology  of  Yahweh's 
presence  as  it  was  made  concrete  within  the 
people,  and  of  Yahweh's  lordship  over  nature 
and  history.81  The  basic  agreement  between 

78  "Only  the  most  extreme  criticism  can  see  any  ap- 
preciable difference  between  the  God  of  Moses  in  JE  and 
the  God  of  Jeremiah"  (W.  F.  Albright,  "The  Ancient 
Near  East  and  the  Religion  of  Israel,"  Journal  of  Biblical 
Literature,  LIX  [1940],  111). 

«  See  G.  Ernest  Wright,  "The  Present  State  of  Biblical 
Archeology,"  in  Harold  R.  Willoughby,  ed.,  Study  of 
Bible  Today  and  Tomorrow  f  pp.  92  ff. 

*»See  W.  F.  Albright,  From  the  Stone  Age  to  Chris- 
tianity (2nd  ed.;  Baltimore:  Johns  Hopkins  Press,  1946); 
The  Archaeology  of  Palestine  (Harmondsworth:  Pelican 
Books,  1949);  R.  de  Vaux,  "Les  patriarches  h£breux  et 
les  dteuvertes  modernes/1  Revue  Biblique,  LIII  (1946), 
321-48,  LV  (1948),  321-47,  LVI  (1949),  5-36;  H.  H. 
Rowley,  From  Joseph  to  Joshua  (London:  Oxford  Uni- 
versity Press,  1950). 

81  See  G.  Henton  Davies,  "The  Yahwistic  Tradition  in 
the  Eighth-Century  Prophets,"  and  N.  W.  Porteous,  *'Thc 
Basis  of  the  Ethical  Teaching  of  the  Prophets,"  in  H.  H. 
Rowley,  ed ,  Studies  in  Old  Testament  Prophecy  (Edin- 
burgh: T.  &  T.  Clark,  1950),  pp.  37  ff.,  143  ff. 


138 


MODERN  PERIOD 


Yahwism  and  prophetism  was  stressed  on  various 
levels,  one  of  which  is  the  Glaubensideologie, 
which  is  found  some  fifty- two  times  before 
Amos;  another,  the  covenantal  emphasis  on 
obedience;  and  a  third,  the  da'ath  'elohtm,  or 
knowledge  of  God,  which  became  the  keystone 
of  Hosea's  religion.  The  prophets  were  able  to 
perceive  their  special  "word"  because  they  were 
steeped  in  the  Yahwistic  tradition. 

Intensive  research  on  the  prophetic  books, 
especially  that  pursued  by  Scandinavian  schol- 
ars, was  less  intent  than  in  the  previous  genera- 
tion upon  trying  to  isolate  the  ipsissima  verba 
of  the  prophetic  figures  and  more  eager  to 
interpret  correctly  the  meaning  of  the  books 
in  their  totality.  All  these  studies  revealed  in 
various  degrees  the  three  characteristics  of  the 
period:  they  showed  a  new  respect  for  the 
validity  of  the  Masoretic  text; 8a  they  assumed 
a  somewhat  reactionary  stand  on  the  integrity 
of  composition; 88  and  they  laid  the  exegetical 
emphasis  on  the  theological  meaning  of  the 
prophetic  message.  The  work  of  Christopher  R. 
North  on  the  suffering  servant 84  deserves  special 
notice,  for  a  strong  case  was  made  therein  for  a 
messianic-soteriological  interpretation  of  the 
servant — although  not  in  the  Davidic  sense  of 
Isa.  9  and  11 — along  lines  which  lead  directly 
to  the  New  Testament  application.  North  went 
so  far  as  to  state  that  Deutero-Isaiah  was  a 
"myth"  prophet  in  the  predictive  sense,  who 
pictured  the  servant  not  at  all  as  Israel  (which 
had  failed) ,  but  as  an  individual  figure  who 
would  come  on  this  earth  and  whose  chastise- 
ment would  bring  peace  to  the  Gentiles.  The 
theological  interest  of  these  exegetes  is  equally 
visible  in  monographs  on  the  Hagiographa, 
particularly  Job  and  the  Psalms. 

B.  New  Testament  Criticism  in  Transition. — 
Spurred  by  the  discovery  of  new  fragments  of 
manuscripts,  particularly  those  of  the  Chester 
Beatty  papyri,  a  considerable  amount  of  work 
was  accomplished  in  the  textual  criticism  of  the 
New  Testament.  The  extremely  complex  rela- 
tionship of  the  manuscript  families  was  studied 
on  an  objective  basis,  and  a  scientific  text  super- 
seding the  editions  of  Tischendorf,  of  Westcott 
and  Hort,  and  of  Nestle,  was  in  process  of 
establishment.  Linguistic  studies  were  intensely 
carried  forward,  particular  emphasis  being  laid 
on  the  theological  keywords,  as  in  Gerhard 
Kind's  Theologisches  Worterbuch  zum  Neuen 

M  The  legitimacy  of  this  attitude  has  received  unex- 
pected support  from  the  discovery  of  the  *Ain  Feshka 
MS  of  Isaiah. 

8*  E.g.,  Artur  Weiser  accepted  the  authenticity  o!  Mic. 
5-6;  7:1-7  in  addition  to  1-3.  See  Das  Buck  der  zwolf 
Kleinen  Propheten  (Gottingen:  Vandenhoeck  &  Ruprecht, 
1949),  I,  ad  he. 

84  The  Suffering  Servant  in  Deutero-Isaiah  (London: 
Oxford  University  Press,  1948). 


Testament,  a  monument  of  invaluable  informa- 
tion under  the  editorship  of  Gerhard  Friedrich. 

Synoptical  exegesis  appeared  at  the  same  time 
to  avoid  the  excesses  of  literary  criticism  as  well 
as  the  extremes  of  form  criticism,  while  taking 
full  advantage  of  the  contributions  which  both 
methods  may  offer.85  Such  a  fact  as  that  the  testi- 
mony of  eyewitnesses  lies  at  the  origin  of  the 
oral  tradition  was  increasingly  recognized.  The 
ecclesiastical  nature  and  the  theological  purpose 
of  the  gospel  literature  were  taken  into  serious 
consideration  at  every  point  of  the  exegetical 
analysis.  Considerable  attention  was  given  to 
the  Fourth  Gospel,88  the  composition  of  which 
was  now  often  ascribed  to  a  first-century  date. 
While  the  problem  of  the  validity  of  the  sources 
used  by  the  Johannine  evangelist  remains  ex- 
tremely complex,  the  trend  here  also  was  in  the 
direction  of  a  qualified  conservatism 87  and  gave 
more  confidence  in  the  historical  accuracy  of 
the  narrative. 

Intensive  studies  were  also  pursued  on  the 
book  of  Acts  and  the  early  church,88  and  par- 
ticular attention  was  given  to  the  early  sermons 
and  to  the  historical  value  of  the  narratives 
concerning  Paul.  Although  lives  of  Jesus  were 
written  between  the  two  world  wars,89  scholars 
were  slowly  coming  to  recognize  the  impossi- 
bility of  the  merely  biographical  inquiry.  The 
familiar  and  worn-out  antitheses  of  the  nine- 
teenth and  early  twentieth  centuries,  like  those 
of  Jesus  or  Paul,  Synoptics  or  Fourth  Gospel, 
eschatology  or  earthly  kingdom,  and  so  forth, 
were  overshadowed  by  more  balanced  views 
which  were  not  reached  from  an  artificially  syn- 
thetic approach  but  were  derived  from  con- 
scientious sifting  and  evaluation  of  previous 
exegetical  contributions.90 

«5  See,  e.g.,  F.  C.  Grant,  The  Earliest  Gospel  (New 
York  and  Nashville:  Abingdon-Cokesbury  Press,  1943). 

86  See  among  others  R.  H.  Strachan,  The  Fourth  Gospel 
(London:  Student  Christian  Movement  Press,  1917);  W. 
Bauer,   Das   Johannesevangelium    (Tubingen:    J.    C.    B. 
Mohr,   1925);   W.   F.   Howard,   The  Fourth   Gospel  in 
Recent  Criticism  and  Interpretation    (London:  Epworth 
Press,  1931);  Philip  Menond,  L'fyjangile  de  Jean  d'apres 
les  recherches  rdcentes   (Paris:  Neuchatel,  1943);  E.  G. 
Hoskyns  and  F.  N.  Davey,  The  Fourth  Gospel  (London: 
Faber  &  Faber,  1948);  Rudolf  Bultmann,  Das  Evangelium 
des   Johannes    (llth    ed.;    Gdttingen:    Vandenhoeck    & 
Ruprecht,  1950). 

87  A    fact    which    had    already   been    recognized    by 
Maurice  Goguel  in  his  Vie  de  Jtsus;  see  The  Life  of  Jesus, 
tr.  Olive  Wyon  (New  York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1933), 
pp.   156-57   and,  in  the  revised   French  edition,  Je'sus 
(Paris:  Payot,  1950),  pp.  107-10. 

sa  The  Beginnings  of  Christianity,  ed.  F.  J.  Foakes 
Jackson  and  Kirsopp  Lake  (London:  Macmillan  &  Co., 
1920-33).  See  also  C.  H  Dodd,  The  Apostolic  Preaching 
and  Its  Developments  (London:  Hodder  &  Stoughton, 
1936). 

8»  See  Chester  C.  McCown,  The  Search  for  the  Real 
Jesus  (New  York:  Charles  Scribner's  Sons,  1940). 

•°  See,  e.g.,  W.  G.  Kummel,  Verheissung  und  Erfiillung, 
Untersuchungen  zur  eschatologischer  Verkundigung  Jesu 


139 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


Several  dangers  arose,  however,  when  radical 
form  critics,  such  as  Bultmann,91  were  at  times 
inclined  to  disregard  the  importance  of  histor- 
ical research  altogether,  simply  because  the  his- 
torical event  of  God's  revelation  in  Jesus  Christ 
is  known  and  transmitted  only  through  the 
kerygmatic  word.  On  much  safer  grounds  ap- 
peared to  be  such  an  interpreter  as  Oscar  Cull- 
mann,92  who  squarely  placed  the  Christian 
event  in  the  whole  biblical  Heilsgeschichte, 
insisted  upon  the  "temporally  unique  character 
of  the  central  event,"  and  at  the  same  time 
pointed  out  the  peril  of  the  ever-recurrent 
heresy  of  Docetism.  It  is  on  account  of  this 
awareness  that,  in  the  words  of  C.  H.  Dodd, 

we  turn  back  to  the  unfinished  "quest  of  the 
historical  Jesus";  for  we  cannot  escape  it,  in  spite 
of  the  flourishes  against  "Historismus"  with  which 
our  period  opened.  As  the  great  tradition  reveals 
itself  afresh  in  its  wholeness  and  essential  unity, 
the  yawning  gap  which  earlier  criticism  left  be- 
tween the  Jesus  of  History  and  the  emergent 
Church  disappears,  and  we  begin  to  see  that  to 
make  a  separation  between  the  historical  and  the 
theological  understanding  of  the  Gospel  is  to  put 
asunder  what  God  hath  joined.88 

C.  Toward  the  Formulation  of  a  Biblical 
Theology. — Exegetes  at  the  mid-century  were 
thus  aware  of  their  theological  responsibility. 
Old  Testament  scholars  no  longer  apologized  for 
the  fact  that  the  Hebrew  Scripture  is  part  of  the 
Christian  canon;  they  were  not  on  the  whole 
tempted  to  divorce  a  structural  exposition  of 
the  various  Hebrew  formulations  of  faith  from 
the  historical  account  of  the  Hebrew  religion 
in  its  development  and  diversity.  Until  1950, 
no  treatise  had  superseded  Walther  Eichrodt's 
inclusive  explication  of  the  way  in  which  the 
Hebrew  revelation  of  God,  man,  sin,  and 
salvation  is  focused  on  the  covenant; e4  however, 
several  monographs  on  limited  subjects 95  show 
that  interpreters  were  cautiously  beginning  to 

(Basel;  H.  Majer,  1945;  "Abhandlungen  zur  Theologie 
des  Alten  und  Neuen  Testaments"). 

«At  least  in  his  extremely  controversial  remarks  on 
the  Christian  myth  in  "Neues  Testament  und  Mythol- 
ogie,"  in  Kerygma  und  Mythos;  ein  theologtsches 
Gesprachj  ed.  Hans  W.  Bartsch  (Hamburg:  Reich  & 
Hedrich,  1948),  pp.  15-53.  See  the  critique  of  Amos  N. 
Wilder,  "Mythology  and  the  New  Testament/'  Journal 
of  Biblical  Literature,  LXIX  (1950),  113-27. 

»*  Christus  nnd  die  Zeit  (Zurich:  Zollikon,  1946),  tr. 
F.  V.  Filson,  Christ  and  Time  (Philadelphia:  Westminster 
Press,  1950). 

°8  "Thirty  Years  of  New  Testament  Study,"  Union 
Seminary  Quarterly  Review,  V  (1950),  12. 

M  Theologie  des  Alten  Testaments  (Leipzig:  J.  C. 
Hinrichs,  1933-39). 

85  Such  as  J.  J.  Stamm,  Erlosen  und  Vergeben  im  Alten 
Testament  (Bern:  A.  Francke,  1940);  Christopher  North, 
The  Old  Testament  Interpretation  of  History  (London: 
Epworth  Press,  1946);  H.  H.  Rowley,  The  Biblical 
Doctrine  of  Election  (London:  Lutterworth  Press,  1950). 


draw  lines  across  the  centuries  in  an  effort  to 
grasp  the  homogeneity  of  Israel's  religious 
growth.  The  task  could  not  be  accomplished 
without  further  discussion  on  methodology.*0 

Similarly,  books  were  appearing  with  the 
title  of  "Theology  of  the  New  Testament,"  M 
though  many  of  them  still  treated  the  early 
Christian  thought  in  fragmentary  fashion — 
Paulinism,  Johanninism,  and  so  forth.  There 
was,  however,  a  real  need  for  a  presentation  of 
the  great  themes — God,  man,  sin,  salvation,  king- 
dom, and  church — in  their  "growth  and  variety" 
from  Paul  to  Hebrews  and  II  Peter,  along  the 
lines  drawn  by  F.  C.  Grant,  who  insisted  rightly 
that  in  spite  of  the  diversity  of  expression,  "the 
faith  is  one"  and  "the  fundamental  outlook  of 
the  primitive  church  was  certainly  consistent 
and  increasingly  homogeneous."  98 

The  next  step  was  to  be  taken  when  a  truly 
"biblical"  theology,  a  theology  o£  the  Bible  as  a 
whole,  should  reveal  how  the  unresolved  ten- 
sions of  Hebrew  faith— particularism  and  uni- 
versalism,  grace  and  law,  individual  and 
community,  church  and  world,  history  and 
eschatology— are  displaced,  overcome,  and  trans- 
figured by  what  proved  to  be  at  once  the  scan- 
dal and  the  creativity  of  the  Christ-event.  The 
fulfillment  of  this  task  demanded  a  restatement 
of  exegetical  purpose  and  methodology. 

D.  Discussions  on  Hermeneutics. — One  can- 
not review  the  history  of  biblical  interpretation 
without  observing  that  exegetes  have  been  too 
often  influenced  in  their  work  by  epistemolog- 
ical  presuppositions  of  which  they  themselves 
were  more  or  less  unaware.  "Historical"  exe- 
gesis, for  example,  which  vehemently  claimed 
to  have  reached  the  highest  possible  degree  of 
objectivity  was  chiefly  dominated  by  philo- 
sophical premises  of  a  naturalistic  type.  Not 
only  have  the  allegorical  or  "spiritual,"  and,  to 
a  lesser  extent,  typological  interpreters  prac- 
ticed eisegesis  rather  than  exegesis,  but  also 
many  self-styled  "exegetes"  have  done  so:  for 
instance,  the  "liberal"  students  who  spiritual- 
ized the  eschatological  element  in  the  teaching 
of  Jesus  or  the  "neo-orthodox"  theologians  who 
dismissed  the  "mythological  frame"  as  alien  to 
the  New  Testament. 

««  See  James  D.  Smart,  "The  Death  and  Rebirth  of  Old 
Testament  Theology/'  Journal  of  Religion,  XXIII 
(1948),  Ml,  125-36;  N.  W.  Porteous,  "Towards  a  The- 
ology of  the  Old  Testament,"  Scottish  Journal  of  Theol- 
ogy,  I  (1948),  136-49;  Robert  C.  Dentan,  Preface  to  Old 
Testament  Theology  (New  Haven:  Yale  University  Press, 
1950). 

»*See  Ethelbert  Stauffer,  Die  Theologie  des  Neuen 
Testaments  (Stuttgart:  W.  Kohlhammer,  1947);  Rudolf 
Bultmann,  Theologie  des  Neuen  Testaments  (Tiibingen: 
J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1948-51). 

»8  An  Introduction  to  New  Testament  Thought  (New 
York  and  Nashville:  Abingdon-Cokesbury  Press,  1950), 
p.  42. 


140 


MODERN  PERIOD 


It  is  unfortunate  that  much  of  the  mid-cen- 
tury discussion  on  hermeneutic  principles  origi- 
nated with  men  who  disparaged  the  work  of  the 
historico-critical  schools  in  a  one-sided  way  and 
proposed  in  its  stead  a  "suprahistorical,"  "dog- 
matic/* "pneumatic,"  "ecclesiastic,"  or  strictly 
"theological"  exegesis.90  In  general,  however, 
the  sounder  view  was  being  maintained  that 
the  exegete  must  be  concerned  at  all  times  with 
the  philological,  grammatical,  literal  meaning 
of  the  text  as  it  is  related  to  the  historical 
framework  of  composition.100  But  his  task  does 
not  end  there.  The  exegete  cannot  and  should 
not  deny  that  the  meaning  of  a  text  has  grown 
in  the  whole  scriptural  context  and  needs  there- 
fore to  be  viewed  in  the  light  of  that  context. 
For  instance,  if  the  exegete  analyzes  the  expres- 
sion imago  dei,  he  must  realize  that  the  priestly 
school  which  was  originally  responsible  for  it 
wrote  at  a  time  of  grave  national  distress;  he 
must  remember  that  the  final  editors  of  the 
Pentateuch  preserved  this  expression  in  a  story 
which  is  now  placed  side  by  side  with  the  J 
accounts  of  the  Creation  and  the  Fall,  thereby 
suggesting  a  subtle  equilibrium  between  con- 
trasting emphases;  he  must  also  take  into 
central  consideration  the  fact  that  the  New 
Testament  places  upon  the  famous  text  of 
Genesis  its  culminating,  teleological  interpre- 
tation. In  other  words,  the  exegesis  of  a  passage 
includes  not  only  "The  determination  of  the 
text;  .  .  .  The  literary  form  of  the  passage;  .  .  . 
The  historical  situation,  the  Sitz  im  Leben;  .  .  . 
The  meaning  which  the  words  had  for  the 
original  author  and  hearer  or  reader";  but  also, 
".  .  .  The  understanding  of  the  passage  in  the 
light  of  its  total  context  and  the  background 
out  of  which  it  emerged."101  This  "total  con- 
text" should  mean  "the  total  Scripture."  The 
theologically-minded  exegete  will  therefore  en- 

80  See,  e.g.,  Albrecht  Oepke,  Geschichtliche  und  uber- 
geschichtliche  Schriftauslegung  (Giitersloh:  C.  Bertels- 
mann, 1931);  see  also  Karl  Barth's  well-known  stand,  as 
reaffirmed  in  his  Kirehliche  Dogmatik  (Miinchen:  C. 
Kaiser,  1948),  Vol.  Ill,  Bd.  2,  pp.  vii-ix. 

100  See,  among  many  others,  H.  Cunliffe- Jones,   The 
Authority   of   the   Biblical  Revelation    (London:   James 
Clarke  &  Co.,  1945);  Floyd  V.  Filson,  "Theological  Exe- 
gesis/' The  Journal  of  Bible  and  Religion,  XVI  (1948), 
212-15;  Oscar  Cullmann,  "La  necessity  et  la  fonction  de 
Texegese  philologique  et  historique  de  la  Bible/*  Verbum 
Caro,  III  (1949),  2-13. 

101  From  "Guiding  Principles  for  the  Interpretation  o£ 
the  Bible,  As  accepted  by  the  ecumenical  Study  Confer- 
ence, held  in  Oxford  from  June  29th  to  July  5th  1949." 
Studies  on  "The  Bible  and  the  Church  Message  to  the 
World/'  as  quoted  by  G.  Ernest  Wright,  "The  Problem 
of  Archaizing  Ourselves,"  Interpretation,  III  (1949),  458. 


ter  into  the  biblical  world  through  his  participa- 
tion in  the  KOIVCOVICC  of  the  people  of  God.  Con- 
sidering the  object  of  his  science,  he  will  know 
that  a  neutral,  detached,  "objective"  attitude 
would  become  in  effect  "unscientific."  In  this 
sense  "theological"  exegesis  is  not  only  legiti- 
mate but  also  indispensable;  however,  it  cannot 
be  divorced  from  the  literal  interpretation, 
which  at  all  times  must  restrain  the  vagaries  of 
subjective  imagination  too  often  "deified"  as 
"the  inner  testimony  of  the  Holy  Spirit,"  and 
must  resist  even  the  pressure  of  a  particular 
ecclesiastic  tradition.102  In  any  event,  the  inter- 
preter should  study  in  considerable  detail  the 
history  of  interpretation,  thereby  obtaining  a 
clear  sense  of  his  responsibility,  and  perhaps 
also  some  humility. 

IV.  Selected  Bibliography 

BURGHARDT,  W.  J.  "On  Early  Christian  Exegesis," 
Theological  Studies,  XI  (1950) ,  78-116. 

CARPENTER,  J.  ESTLIN.  The  Bible  in  the  Nineteenth 
Century.  New  York:  Longmans,  Green  &  Co., 
1903. 

COPPENS,  JOSEPH.  The  Old  Testament  and  the 
Critics,  tr.  Edward  A.  Ryan  and  Edward  W. 
Tribbe.  Paterson,  N.  J.:  St.  Anthony  Guild  Press, 
1942- 

DUGMORE,  CLIFFORD  WILLIAM,  ed.  The  Interpreta- 
tion of  the  Bible.  London:  Society  for  Promoting 
Christian  Knowledge,  1944. 

FARRAR,  FREDERIC  WILLIAM.  History  of  Interpreta- 
tion. New  York:  E.  P.  Button  &  Co.,  1886. 

GILBERT,  GEORGE  HOLLEY.  Interpretation  of  the 
Bible.  New  York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1908. 

GLUNZ,  H.  H.  History  of  the  Vulgate  in  England 
from  Alcuin  to  Roger  Bacon.  Cambridge:  Cam- 
bridge University  Press,  1933. 

GRANT,  ROBERT  M.  The  Bible  in  the  Church. 
New  York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1948. 

ROWLEY,  H.  H.,  ed.  The  Old  Testament  and  Modern 
Study.  Oxford:  Clarendon  Press,  1951. 

SCHWEITZER,  ALBERT.  The  Quest  of  the  Historical 
Jesus,  tr.  W.  Montgomery.  New  York:  The  Mac- 
millan Co.,  1950. 

SMALLEY,  BERYL.  The  Study  of  the  Bible  in  the 
Middle  Ages.  Oxford:  Clarendon  Press,  1941. 

SPICQ,  C.  Esquisse  d'une  histoire  de  I'exe'gese  latine 
au  moyen  dge.  Paris:  J.  Vrin,  1944. 

WACH,  JOACHIM.  Das  Verstehen,  Grundzuge  einer 
Geschichte  der  hermeneutischen  Theorie  im  19. 
Jahrhundert.  Tubingen:  J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1926-33. 

WASZINK,  J.  H.  "Allegorese,"  Reallexikon  filr  Antike 
und  Christentum  I.  Stuttgart:  Hiersemann,  1950. 
Pp.  283-93. 

WILLOUGHBY,  HAROLD  R.,  ed.  The  Study  of  the 
Bible  Today  and  Tomorrow.  Chicago:  University 
of  Chicago  Press,  1947. 

102  See  article  "The  Bible:  Its  Significance  and  Author- 
ity," pp.  3-31. 


141 


CHRONOLOGY,  METROLOGY,  ETC. 

by  GEORGES  AUGUSTIN  BARROIS 


I.  Chronology 

A.  From  Creation  to  Abraham 

B.  From  Abraham  to  the  Exodus 

C.  From  the  Exodus  to  Solomon 

D.  From  Solomon  to  the  Exile 

E.  From  the  Exile  to  the  Roman  Conquest 

J.  From  the  Roman  Conquest  to  the  Destruc- 
tion of  Jerusalem 
II.  Calendars 

A.  Hebrew  Calendar 

B.  Hellenistic  Calendar 

C.  Festivals 
III.  Metrology 

A.  Measures  of  Length 

B.  Measures  of  Distance 

C.  Measures  of  Area 

D.  Measures  of  Capacity 

E.  Measures  of  Weight 


I.  Chronology 

A.  from  Creation  to  Abraham. — The  gene- 
alogy of  the  early  patriarchs  (Gen.  5;  11*10-32) 
is  cast  into  a  chronological  scheme  whose  figures 
according  to  the  standard  Hebrew  text  (fol- 
lowed by  the  King  James  Version)  conflict  with 
those  in  the  Greek  and  Samaritan  versions.  In 
each  division  of  Table  I,  column  A  shows  the 
age  of  the  patriarchs  at  the  birth  of  their  heir; 
column  B,  the  number  of  their  years  thereafter; 
column  C,  their  total  lifetime. 

The  scheme  of  Gen.  5  and  11:10-32  is  strictly 
genealogical.  This  means  that  the  summation  of 
the  figures  shown  in  column  A  should  give  the 
number  of  years  elapsed  since  the  Creation. 
Hence  the  dates,  anno  mundi,  1656  for  the 
Flood  (Noah's  six  hundredth  year)  and  1946  for 
Abraham's  birth. 

Such  figures  cannot  be  reconciled  with  the 
conclusions  or  hypotheses  of  modern  science 
concerning  the  age  of  the  world  or  the  average 
life  span  of  primitive  man,  unless  it  is  assumed 
that  the  reckoning  of  times  by  the  biblical 
authors  or  translators  follows  symbolical  precon- 
ceptions whose  nature  or  ratio  cannot  be  ascer- 
tained.  The  analogy  of  early  Mesopotamian 
dynastic  lists  may  to  a  certain  extent  substantiate 
this  assumption. 


IV.  Numismatics 

A.  Early  Means  of  Exchange 

B.  Persian  Period 

C.  Hellenistic  Period 

D.  Maccabean  Period 

E.  Roman  Period 

1.  Coinage   of   the   Roman   Administration 
(63  B.C -A.D.  66) 

2.  Coinage  of  the  First  Jewish  Revolt   (A.D. 
66-70) 

3.  Coinage  of  the  Second  Jewish  Revolt  (A.D. 
132-35) 

F.  Appendixes 

1.  Money  in  the  New  Testament 

2.  Illustrations  of  Selected  Coins  Current  in 
Ancient  Palestine 

a)  Persian 

b)  Hellenistic 

c)  Maccabean 
a)   Roman 

According  to  the  Greek  chronology,  Methuse- 
lah survived  the  Flood  by  fourteen  years,  in 
contradiction  to  Gen.  7:23.  The  Hebrew  dates 
his  death  in  the  year  of  the  Flood.  The  fresh 
start  to  be  made  by  Noah  and  his  sons  is  further 
emphasized  in  the  Samaritan,  where  Jared, 
Methuselah,  and  Lamech  are  made  to  die  the 
year  of  the  Flood,  being  presumably  wiped  out 
by  the  cataclysm. 

The  low  figures  in  column  A  of  the  Hebrew 
chronology,  from  Arpachshad  to  Nahor,  account 
for  the  abnormal  fact  that  all  the  patriarchs 
from  Noah  to  Terah  were  still  alive  when  Abra- 
ham was  born.  According  to  the  Greek  and  the 
Samaritan,  all  of  Abraham's  forebears  had  died 
when  he  started  on  his  journey  to  Canaan,  as  if 
to  stress  the  beginning  of  a  new  era  in  biblical 
history. 

Events  recorded  in  the  biblical  narratives  cov- 
ering this  period  cannot  be  synchronized  with 
events  of  world  history.  However,  the  story  of 
the  Flood  is  paralleled  in  early  Mesopotamian 
literature  by  traditions  which  became  embodied 
in  the  epic  of  Gilgamesh  around  the  eighteenth 
century  B.C.  The  story  of  the  Tower  of  Babel 
possibly  refers  to  the  construction  or  the  restora- 
tion of  the  temple  tower  Etemenenki  at  Baby- 
lon, the  age  of  which  is  not  ascertainable,  al- 
though it  antedates  the  second  millennium  B.C. 


142 


CHRONOLOGY,  METROLOGY,  ETC. 


B*  From  Abraham  to  the  Exodus. — The  bib- 
lical data  consist  of  a  few  genealogical  indica- 
tions shown  in  Table  II. 

That  the  genealogies  were  regarded  as  com- 
plete is  confirmed  by  the  prophecy  of  Gen. 
15:16,  according  to  which  the  fourth  generation 
after  Jacob  was  to  return  to  Canaan.  However, 
the  numerical  indications  recorded  in  column  A 
of  Table  II  are  defective,  and  this  makes 
it  impossible  directly  to  calculate  the  total 
length  of  the  period,  which  has  to  be  inferred 
from  the  following  data: 


Gen.  12:4 — Abraham's  entry  into  Canaan,  at  75  years 
Gen.  47:9 — Jacob's  migration  to  Egypt,  at  130  years 
Exod.  12:40  (Heb.)  —Sojourn  in  Egypt,  430  years 
Exod.   12:40    (LXX,  Samar.) — Sojourn  in  Canaan 
and  Egypt,  430  years 

Thus  the  years  from  the  birth  of  Abraham 
to  the  Exodus  can  be  tabulated  as  shown  in 
Table  III. 

The  abnormal  longevity  of  the  patriarchs  and 
the  excessive  number  of  years  assigned  to  the 
generations  from  Abraham  to  Moses  point  to- 


TABLE  I.  GENEALOGY  OF  THE  EARLY  PATRIARCHS 


HEBREW 


SAMARITAN 


LXX  (Ed.  Rahlfs) 


A 

B 

C 

A 

B 

d 

A 

B 

C 

Adam  ... 
Seth     ...     
Enosh  ...     

130 
105 
90 

800 
807 
815 

930 
912 
905 

130 
105 
90 

800 
807 
815 

930 
912 
905 

230 
205 
190 

700 
707 
715 

930 

912 
905 

Kenan        .  ,  

70 

840 

910 

70 

840 

910 

170 

740 

910 

Mahalalel        

65 

830 

895 

65 

830 

895 

165 

730 

895 

162 

800 

962 

62 

785 

847 

162 

800 

962 

Enoch        

65 

300 

365 

65 

300 

365 

165 

200 

365 

Methuselah     

187 

782 

969 

67 

653 

720 

167 

802 

969 

L&mcch 

182 

595 

777 

53 

600 

653 

188 

565 

753 

Noah        
Shem 

500 
100 

450 
500 

950 

500 
100 

450 
500 

950 
600 

500 
100 

450 
500 

950 

Flood 

1656 

1307 

2242 

Arpachshad       .    ... 
rK.aina.nl     

35 

403 

135 

303 

438 

135 
130 

430 
330 

Shelah 

80 

403 

130 

303 

433 

130 

330 

Eber     

34 

430 

134 

270 

404 

134 

370 

Peleg  

30 

209 

130 

109 

239 

130 

209 

Reu  

32 

207 

132 

107 

239 

132 

207 

Serug  

30 

200 

130 

100 

230 

130 

200 

Nahor  

29 

119 

79 

69 

148 

79 

129 

Terah        

70 

205 

70 

145 

70 

205 

Abraham's  birth 

1946 

2247 

3312 

TABLE  II.  GENEALOGY  FROM  ABRAHAM  TO  THE  EXODUS 


REFERENCE 

PERSON 

A 

AGE  AT  BIRTH 

B 

TOTAL  LIFETIME 

OF  HEIR 

HEBR. 

SAMAR 

LXX 

Gen.  21:5;  25:7 
Gen  25-26-  35  '28 

Abraham 
Isaac 

100 
60 

175 

1  QA 

Gen  47-28                 

Jacob 

14.7 

Exod.  6:16          

Levi 

137 

Exod.  6:18  

Kohath 

133 

130 

Exod  6-20             

Amram 

137 

136 

132 

Deut.  34:7      

Moses 

120 

TABLE  III.  YEARS  FROM  THE  BIRTH  OF  ABRAHAM  TO  THE  EXODUS 


PERIOD 

HEBR. 
(KJV) 

LXX 

SAMAR. 

75 

75 

From  Abraham's  entry  into  Canaan  to  Jacob's  migration    

215 

215 

From  Jacob's  migration  to  the  Exodus  

430 

215 

Total  duration    

720 

505 

143 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


ward  the  artificial  character  of  the  biblical 
chronology,  which  aims  at  making  the  sojourn 
in  Egypt  exactly  the  double  of  (Hebrew),  or 
equal  to  (LXX,  Samaritan),  the  sojourn  in 
Canaan. 

The  symbolic  nature  of  the  chronology  of  the 
patriarchs  from  Abraham  to  Moses  makes  it  in- 
advisable to  use  the  figures  of  the  Bible  for  the 
computation  of  historical  synchronisms,  lest  re- 


sults thus  obtained  should  at  best  prove  coinci 
dental,  and  possibly  misleading. 

Most  exegetes  have  abandoned  the  identifica- 
tion of  Amraphel  (Gen.  14:1)  with  Hammurabi. 
The  once  favored  synchronism  Abraham-Ham- 
murabi is  therefore  uncertain,  even  though  it 
might  obtain  some  support  from  linguistic  and 
onomastic  parallels  between  the  patriarchal 
stories  of  Genesis  and  the  cuneiform  texts  of 


TABLE  IV.  SYNCHRONISMS  OF  HEBREW  AND  ORIENTAL  HISTORY 


HEBREW  HISTORY 


Hebrew  Patriarchs  in  Canaan 


ORIENTAL  HISTORY 


Cuneiform  documents  of  Mart,  18th  century 
Hammurabi,   1728-1686    (dates  revised  after  data 
from  the  Mari  texts) 

Cuneiform  documents  of  Nuzi,  15th  century 


TABLE  V.  SYNCHRONISMS  OF  HEBREW  AND  EGYPTIAN  HISTORY 


HEBREW  HISTORY 


Hebron  built  7  years  before  Zoan  (Num.  13:22) 
Migration  of  the  Hebrews  into  Egypt  [?] 


14th  century;  Jericho  besieged  twice  and  destroyed 

(Garstang) 
Hypothesis  of  a  partial  Exodus  and  settlement  of 

tribes  in  central  Palestine 


The  king  "which  knew  not  Joseph"    (Exod.  1:8) , 

possibly  Seti  I 
The  Exodus,  after  1300 
Final  destruction  of  Jericho  (Vincent)  and  Joshua's 

conquest  of  Palestine,  shortly  after  1250 


The  Philistines,  hostile  neighbors  of  Israel  in  the 
story  of  Samson  (previous  mentions  of  the  Philis- 
tines in  the  Bible  are  anachronisms) 

David,  king  in  Hebron,  1002-995 

David,  king  in  Jerusalem,  995-962 

Reign  of  Solomon,  962-922 

Construction  of  the  temple,  from  the  4th  to  the  llth 
year  of  Solomon  (I  Kings  6:1,  38) ,  959-952 


EGYPTIAN  HISTORY 


THE  HYKSOS  (XV  DYNASTY)  * 

Capital  Avaris  (Zoan) ,  founded  1675 
Conquer  Xois,  1594 
Expelled  by  Ahmose,  1567 

XVIII  DYNASTY,  1546-1319 
Thutmose  III,  1490-1436;  campaigns  in  Syria 

Amenophis  III,  1413-1377 

Amenophis  IV  (Akhenaton) ,  1377-1360  (Cuneiform 
documents  of  Tell  el-Amarna,  14th  century) 

XIX  DYNASTY,  1319-1200 

Seti  I,  1319-1301 
Ramses  II,  13014234 

Merneptah,  1234-1227,  defeats  Israel  in  Palestine,  the 
5th  year  of  his  reign 


XX  DYNASTY,  1200-1085 

Invasion  of  Egypt  by  the  Sea  Peoples,  defeated  by 
Ramses  III,  1195-1164,  and  settlement  of  the 
Philistines  in  the  Palestinian  lowlands 


*  Dynasties  XVI-XVII  are  local  (Theban)  dynasties. 

Chronology  of  the  Hyksos  according  to  H.  E.  Winlock,  The  Rise  and  Fall  of  the  Middle  Kingdom  in  Thebes  (New 
York:  The  Macmillan  Co.,  1947).  New  Empire  dates  after  Borchardt-Edgerton. 

144 


CHRONOLOGY,  METROLOGY,  ETC. 


Mari  (eighteenth  century) .  On  the  other  hand, 
the  customs  of  the  early  Hebrews,  as  described 
chiefly  in  the  Jacob  narratives,  conform  best  to 
the  social  and  legal  conditions  revealed  by  the 
cuneiform  documents  of  Nuzi  (fifteenth  cen- 
tury) . 

Synchronisms  with  Egyptian  history  are 
equally  hypothetical  It  is  generally  assumed 
that  the  migration  of  the  Hebrews  into  Egypt 
may  have  occurred  while  the  Hyksos  kings  of 
the  Fifteenth  Dynasty  had  their  capital  in  the 
Delta,  according  to  the  tradition  of  Manetho, 
an  Egyptian  priest  of  the  third  century  B.C.  The 
Exodus  most  likely  took  place  during  the  reign 
of  Ramses  II.  The  interval,  which  exceeds  two 
and  one  half  centuries,  seems,  however,  not  to 
be  in  harmony  with  the  genealogical  scheme  of 
the  Bible,  which  counts  only  four  generations 
from  Jacob  to  Moses. 

Although  archaeologists  still  disagree  upon 
the  circumstances  and  date  of  the  destruction  of 
Jericho,  miscellaneous  data  support  the  dating 
of  Joshua's  conquest  of  Palestine  shortly  after 
1250  B.C. 

The  hypothetical  and  provisional  character 
of  the  dates  shown  in  Tables  IV  and  V  should  be 
kept  in  mind. 

C.  From  the  Exodus  to  Solomon. — Chrono- 
logical indications  from  the  historical  books 
according  to  the  Hebrew  (followed  by  the  King 


James  Version) ,  together  with  the  Greek  vari- 
ants (Rahlfs*  text  of  Septuagint) ,  may  be  tabu- 
lated in  years  as  shown  in  Table  VI. 

The  chronology  of  the  entire  period  tends  to 
reckon  with  units,  multiples,  or  fractions  of  40 
years.  In  I  Kings  6:1  the  period  extending  from 
the  Exodus  to  the  construction  of  the  temple 
in  the  fourth  year  of  Solomon  lasts  480  years 
(Hebrew  and  King  James  Version) ,  or  440  years 
(Greek),  that  is,  respectively,  12  or  11  units  of 
40  years.  However,  this  conflicts  with  the  de- 
tailed chronology  of  the  historical  books  re- 
corded in  the  above  table.  The  summation  of 
the  figures  in  the  Hebrew  column  gives  a  total 
of  590  years  from  the  Exodus  to  the  death  of 
Solomon,  that  is,  554  years  to  the  construction 
of  the  temple,  over  against  the  480  years  of 
I  Kings  6:1  in  the  Hebrew  tradition.  The  last 
number  may  be  explained  as  follows:  The  years 
of  oppression,  including  the  three  years  of 
Abimelech,  who  was  never  regarded  as  a  legiti- 
mate ruler,  amount  to  1 14.  There  are  therefore 
554—114=440  years  of  Hebrew  rule  from  the 
Exodus  to  the  construction  of  the  temple,  which 
is  precisely  the  number  read  by  the  Septuagint 
in  I  Kings  6:1.  The  Hebrew  adds  40  years  to 
cover  the  unrecorded  duration  of  the  leader- 
ship of  Joshua,  and  the  reign  of  Saul,  thus  mak- 
ing up  the  sum  total  of  480  years. 

The  summation  of  the  figures  of  the  Greek 


TABLE  VI.  BIBLICAL  CHRONOLOGY  FROM  THE  EXODUS  TO  SOLOMON 


HEBR. 


LXX 


A.  The  years  of  the  Wandering  (Num.  32:13)     40 

Leadership  of  Joshua ? 

B.  Oppression.  Cushan-rishathaim  (Judg.  3:8)   8 

Othniel  (Judg.  3:11)   40 

Oppression.  Eglon,  king  of  Moab  (Judg.  3:14)  18 

Ehud  (Judg.  3:30)  80 

Oppression.  Jabin,  king  of  Hazor  (Judg,  4:3)  20 

Deborah-Barak  (Judg.  5:31)  40 

Oppression.  The  Midianites  (Judg.  6:1)  . 7 

Gideon  (Judg.  8:28)  40 

Rule  of  Abimelech  (Judg.  9:22)  3 

Tola  (Judg.  10:2)  23 

Jair  (Judg.  10:3)  22 

Oppression.  The  Ammonites  (Judg.  10:8) 18 

Jephthah  (Judg.  12:7)  6 

Ibzan  (Judg.  12:9)  7 

Elon  (Judg.l2:ll)  10 

Abdon  (Judg.  12:14)  8 

Oppression.  The  Philistines  (Judg.  13:1)  40 

Samson  (Judg.  15:20;  16:31)  20 

C.  Eli,  priest  in  Shiloh  (I  Sam.  4:18)   40 

Samuel.  Ark  in  Kirjath-jearim  (I  Sam.  7:2) 20 

Saul,king  ? 

David,  king  in  Hebron  (I  Kings  2:11)  }>4Q 

David,  king  in  Jerusalem  (I  Kings  2:11)  33) 

Solomon,  king  (I  Kings  11:42)    ••••-• ;-;;•  4Q 

145 


50 


20 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


TABLE  VII.  COMPARATIVE  CHRONOLOGY  OF  THE  KINGS  OF  JUDAH  AND  ISRAEL  TROM  SOLOMON  TO  THE  EXILE 


KINGS  OF 
JUDAH 

REGNAL 
YEARS 

B.C. 

DATED  EVENTS 

KINGS  OF 
ISRAEL 

REGNAL 
YEARS 

B.C. 

922-90T 

901-900 

900~877~ 
877-876 

876 

876^869" 
869-850 

850-849 
849-842 

842-815 

815-801 
801-786 
786-746 

746-745 

745        ' 

Rehoboam 

Abijam 
Asa 

Jehoshaphat 

Jehoram 

Ahaziah 

Athaliah, 
queen 

8(17) 

3 
41 

25 

8 

1 

6(7) 

922-915 

915-913 
913-873 

873-849 

849-842 

842 

842-837 

Sheshonk  of  Egypt,  XXII  Dynasty    (Ly 
bian)  ,  raids  Palestine,  the  5th  year  o 
Rehoboam,  ca.  918  B.C.  (I  Kings  14:25;  I 
Chr.  12:2) 

Omri  builds  Samaria  after  6  years  of  reigi 
in  Tirzah,  ca.  870  B.C.  (I  Kings  16:23-24) 
Shalmaneser  III  of  Assyria,  859-824  B.C. 
fights  Ahab  and  the  Syrian  confederates  a 
Qarqar,  ca.  853  B.C.,  Monolith  of  Shalma 
neser 

According  to  II  Kings  3:7-27,  the  death  o 
Jehoshaphat  occurred  some  time  after  the 
accession  of  Joram  of  Israel,  since  both 
kings  personally  joined  in  the  war  against 
Moab 

Ahaziah  of  Judah  and  Joram  of  Israel 
slain  the  same  day  by  Jehu,  842  B.C.   (11 
Kings  9:21-28) 

Ca.  841  B.C.  Jehu  pays  tribute  to  Shalma- 
neser III  of  Assyria,  859-824  B.C.    (Black 
Obelisk,  and  Annals) 

Ca.  738  B.C.  Menahem  pays  tribute  to  Pulu 
(Tiglath-pileser  III)    of  Assyria,  745-727 
B.C.   (II  Kings  15:19,  and  Assyrian  docu- 
ments) 

Pekah  and  Rezon  of  Syria  besiege  Jerusa- 
lem, ca.  734  B.C.  (H  Kings  16:5) 
Ca.   733-732  B.C.,   campaign  of   Tiglath- 
pileser  HI  in  Palestine  (Annals) 
Hoshea,  enthroned  by  Tiglath-pileser  III, 
ca.  732  B.C.;  pays  tribute  to  Shalmaneser  V 
of  Assyria,  727-722  B.C.   (II  Kings  17:3)  ; 
taken  into  captivity,  ca.  724  B.C.  (II  Kings 

3  years'  siege  of  Samaria  (II  Kings  17:5) 
ends  between  December  722,  accession  of 
Sargon  II  of  Assyria,  722-705  B.C.,  and  the 
pring  of  721  B.C.  (Assyrian  documents) 

Jeroboam 
Nadab 

22 
2 

Baasha 
Elan 

24 
2 

Zimri 

7  days 

Omri 
Ahab 

Ahaziah 
Joram 

8(12) 
20  (22) 

2 
8(12) 

Jehu 

[oahaz 
[bash 
feroboam 

Zechariah 

28 

15(17) 
16 
41 

6mos. 

Jehoash 
Amaziah 
Azariah 
(Uzziah) 
Jotham, 
regent 

Jotham,  king 
Ahaz 

38  (40) 
18  (29) 
42(52) 

8? 
8(16) 

21±(16) 

837-800 
800-783 
783-742 

750-742 
742-735 

735-715 

Shallum 

1  mo. 

Menahem 
Pekahia 

8+  (10) 
2 

745-738 
738-737 

Pekah 

6-  (20) 

37-732 

Hoshea 

9 

32-724 

146 


CHRONOLOGY,  METROLOGY,  ETC. 


TABLE  VII.  Concluded 


KINGS  OF 

JUDAH 

REGNAL 
YEARS 

B.C. 

DATED  EVENTS 

KINGS  OF 
ISRAEL 

REGNAL 
YEARS 

B.C. 

Hezekiah 

29 

715-687 

Sennacherib  of  Assyria,  705-681   B.C.,  in- 

vades Judah,  the  14th  year  of  Hezekiah, 

ca.  701  B.C.  (II  Kings  18:13,  and  Assyrian 

documents) 

Manasseh 

45  (55) 

687-642 

Taken  prisoner  by  king  of  Assyria,  possibly 

Esarhaddon,  681-669  B.C.,  or  rather,  Ashur- 

banipal,  669-626  B.C.  (II  Chr.  33:11) 

Amon 

2 

642-640 

Josiah 

31 

640-609 

Deuteronomic  reform,  the  18th  year  of 

Josiah,  ca.  622  B.C.  (II  Kings  22:3;  23:23; 

II  Chr.  34:8;  35:19) 

612  B.C.,  fall  of  Nineveh,  beginning  of  Neo- 

Babylonian  Empire;  Assyrian  kings  fight 

till  609  B.C. 

Josiah  killed  in  battle  at  Megiddo,  against 

Necho  of  Egypt,  XXVI    (Saite)    Dynasty 

(II  Kings  23:29;  II  Chr.  35:22-24) 

Jehoahaz 

Smos. 

609 

Taken  into  captivity  by  Necho   (II  Kings 

23:33-34;  II  Chr.  36:3) 

Jehoiakim 

11 

609-598 

Enthroned  by  Necho   (II  Kings  23:34;  II 

Chr.  36:4) 

1st  year  of  Nebuchadrezzar  of  Babylon, 

605-562  B.C.,  4th  of  Jehoiakim,,  ca.  605  B.C., 

prophecy  on  the  ruin  of  Judah  (Jer.  25:1) 

7th  year  of  Nebuchadrezzar,  ca.  599  B.C., 

deportation  of  3,023  Jews  (Jer.  52:28) 

Jehoiachin 

Smos. 

598 

Taken  into  captivity  the  8th  year  of  Nebu- 

chadrezzar, ca.  598  B.C.    (II  Kings  24:12; 

II  Chr.  36:10) 

Zedekiah 

11 

598-587 

Enthroned  by  Nebuchadrezzar   (II  Kings 

24:27) 

18th  year  of  Nebuchadrezzar,  10th  of  Zede- 

kiah, ca.  588  B.C.,  Jerusalem  besieged  (Jer. 

32:1-2)  ;  deportation  of  832  persons  from 

Jerusalem  (Jer.  52:29) 

19th   year   of  Nebuchadrezzar,   587   B.C., 

Jerusalem  destroyed   (II  Kings  25:8;  Jer. 

52:12-13) 

23rd  year  of  Nebuchadrezzar,  ca.  583  B.C., 

deportation  of  745  Jews  (Jer.  52:30) 

Jehoiachin    received    by    Evil-merodach 

(Awel-Marduk)   of  Babylon,  562-560  B.C., 

in  the  year  of  his  accession  (Jer.  52:31) 

gives  a  total  of  580  years  for  the  entire  period, 
that  is,  544  years  from  the  Exodus  to  the  con- 
struction of  the  temple,  and  consequently  544— 
114=430  years  of  Hebrew  rule.  The  period  from 
the  Exodus  to  the  construction  of  Solomon's 
temple  is  thus  regarded  as  strictly  equal  to  the 
sojourn  of  the  Hebrews  in  Canaan  and  in  Egypt 
according  to  Exod.  12:40  (LXX) . 


The  above  remarks  demonstrate  the  conven- 
tional character  of  the  biblical  chronology  of 
this  period,  and  the  inadvisability  of  using  its 
figures  for  the  computation  of  historical  syn- 
chronisms. Attempts  at  relating  the  chronology 
of  Joshua-Judges  to  the  vicissitudes  of  the  fast 
dwindling  power  of  Egypt  lead  to  highly  ques- 
tionable results. 


147 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


The  dates  of  David  and  Solomon,  if  one  is  to 
assume  the  historicity  of  the  numbers  of  their 
regnal  years,  may  be  deduced  from  the  chro- 
nology of  their  successors,  the  kings  of  Judah 
and  of  Israel. 

Thus  the  period  from  the  Exodus  to  the  death 
of  Solomon  can  be  outlined  as  shown  at  the 
end  of  Table  V. 

The  generally  accepted  date  for  the  death 
of  Solomon,  and  consequently  Rehoboam's  ac- 
cession and  the  schism,  is  933-932  B.C.  Modern 
historians  tend  to  depart  from  this  date  for  the 
following  reasons:  II  Chr.  16:1  states  that 
Baasha  was  still  reigning  in  the  thirty-sixth  year 
of  Asa.  If  one  were  to  follow  the  chronology  of 
the  author  of  Kings,  the  thirty-sixth  year  of  Asa 
would  fall  after  Baasha's  death.  If  the  indica- 
tion of  the  Chronicler  is  to  be  taken  into  ac- 
count, and  if  the  number  of  the  regnal  years  of 
the  Israelite  kings  is  not  to  be  increased  drasti- 
cally, the  reign  of  Rehoboam  ought  to  be  short- 
ened by  a  decade  or  so.  Thus  the  death  of 
Solomon  would  have  taken  place  ca.  922  B.C.1 

*Cf.  William  F.  Albright's  discussion  in  "The  Chro- 
nology of  the  Divided  Monarchy  of  Israel,"  Bulletin  of  the 
American  Schools  of  Oriental  Research,  No.  100  (1945), 
p.  20,  n.  14. 


D.  From  Solomon  to  the  Exile.— The  biblical 
data  consist  of  a  double  set  of  chronological 
indications  recorded  in  I  and  II  Kings  and 
parallels,  (a)  Regnal  years  of  each  king,  some- 
times with  their  age  when  enthroned,  (b)  Syn- 
chronisms between  the  kings  of  Judah  and  the 
kings  of  Israel,  sometimes  with  synchronisms 
with  the  history  of  Egypt  and  Mesopotamia. 

These  data  are  drawn  from  official  annals  of 
the  kingdoms  and,  on  account  of  their  historical 
character,  can  be  used  as  the  framework  of  the 
chronological  succession  of  the  kings  of  Judah 
and  Israel,  with  reference  to  events  known  and 
dated  from  other  sources  such  as  the  fall  of 
Samaria,  which  occurred  shortly  after  the  acces- 
sion of  Sargon  II  of  Assyria. 

However,  the  interpretation  of  the  data  is 
made  difficult  for  the  following  reasons:  (a) 
There  are  occasional  divergent  readings  in  the 
Hebrew  and  the  Greek,  (b)  There  is  also  fre- 
quent disagreement  between  the  synchronisms 
recorded  in  the  Bible  and  the  absolute  numbers 
of  regnal  years. 

Whereas  Wellhausenian  critics  inclined  to 
give  up  the  synchronisms  as  purely  conventional 
and  therefore  unreliable,  Joachim  Begrich  has 
proved  conclusively  that  most  of  the  variants 


TABLE  VIII.  COMPARATIVE  CHRONOLOGY  OF  HEBREW  AND  PERSIAN  HISTORY  AFTER  THE  EXILE 


PERSIAN  KINGS 


DATED  EVENTS 


Cyrus,  539-530  B.C.  (count- 
ing from  the  conquest  of 
Babylon) 


Cambyses,  530-522  B.C. 


Darius  I,  522486  B,C. 


Xerxes  I  (Ahasuerus)   486- 
465  B.C. 

Artaxerxes  I,  Longimanus, 
465-424  B.C. 


Xerxes  II,  424-423  B.C. 
Darius  II,  423-404  B.C. 
Artaxerxes     II,     Mnemon, 
404-358  B.C. 

Artaxerxes  III,  358-338  B.C. 
Arses,  338-336  B.C. 
Darius    III,    Codomannus, 
336-331  B.C. 


Edict  for  the  return  of  the  Jews,  the  1st  (formal)  year  of  Cyrus,  ca.  538  B.C. 
(Ezra  1:1) 

Zerubbabel  undertakes  to  restore  the  temple,  the  2nd  year  after  the  return, 
ca.  537  B.C.  (Ezra  3:8) ;  work  interrupted  (Ezra  4:5,  24) 

Jewish  community  established  at  Elephantine,  before  525  B.C.   (conquest  of 
Egypt) ;  papyri  range  from  500  to  400  B.C. 

Work  at  the  temple  resumed  the  2nd  year  of  Darius,  ca.  520  B.C.  (Ezra  4:24; 
Hag.  1:15) ;  completed  the  6th  year  of  Darius,  ca.  516  B.C.  (Ezra  6:15) 

Opposition  to  the  Jews  (Ezra  4:6) 

Opposition  to  the  Jews  (Ezra  4:7-23) 

Return  of  Ezra,  the  7th  year  of  Artaxerxes,  ca.  458  B.C.  (Ezra  7:7,  according 

to  the  actual  order  of  the  book) 

Nehemiah,  governor  of  Judah,  from  the  20th  to  the  32nd  year  of  Artaxerxes, 

ca.  445-433  B.C.  (Neh.  2:1;  5:14) 

Nehemiah  back  to  Persia  the  32nd  year  of  Artaxerxes,  ca.  433  B.C.,  and  2nd 

mission  to  Palestine  (Neh.  13:6) 


Return  of  Ezra,  the  7th  year  of  Artaxerxes,  ca.  397  B.C.  (Ezra  7:7,  as  suggested 
by  several  exegetes  for  reasons  of  internal  evidence) 


148 


CHRONOLOGY,  METROLOGY,  ETC. 


and  of  the  so-called  erroneous  synchronisms  re- 
sulted from  several  attempts  at  systematizing 
historical  data,  and  had  an  objective  value.2  At 
the  same  time,  he  was  successful  in  explaining 

8  Die   Chronologic   der  Konige  von   Israel  und  Juda 
(Tubingen:  J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  1929). 


rationally  the  origin  of  many  discrepancies.  Yet 
his  effort  to  fit  all  data  goes  too  far,  and  the 
proportion  of  trivial  errors  in  the  transmission 
of  the  text  is  probably  greater  than  he  would 
admit. 
Some  of  the  difficulties  are  of  a  historical 


TABLE  IX.  COMPARATIVE  CHRONOLOGY  OF  HEBREW  AND  HELLENISTIC  HISTORY  TO  THE  ROMAN  CONQUEST 


HELLENISTIC  KINGS 


DATED  EVENTS 


PTOLEMIES  (Egypt) 


SELEUCIDS  (Asia  Minor  and  Syria' 


(Alexander  the  Great,  336-323  B.C.  ) 


Ptolemy  I,  Soter,  323-283  B.C. 


Ptolemy     II,     Philadelphia 
[285]283-246  B.C. 


Ptolemy  III,  246-221  B.C. 


Ptolemy  IV,  221-203  B.C. 


Ptolemy  V,  203-181  B.C. 

Ptolemies  continue  under 
Roman  protectorate  until 
30  B.C.,  when  Egypt  becomes 
a  Roman  province 


Seleucus     I,     Nicator,     312- 
280  B.C. 

Antiochus  I,  280-261  B.C. 
Antiochus  II,  261-247  B.C. 
Seleucus  II,  247-226  B.C. 
Seleucus  III,  226-223  B.C. 

Antiochus  III,  the  Great,  223- 
187  B.C. 

Seleucus  IV,  187-175  B.C. 

Antiochus     IV,     Epiphanes, 
175-163  B.C. 


Antiochus  V,  163-162  B.C. 


Demetrius  I,  162-150  B.C. 


(Fall  of  Tyre,  ca.  332  B.C.) 
Seleucid  Era  begins,  October,  312  B.C. 

In  Alexandria,  version  of  the  LXX 
Papyri  of  Zeno,  agent  of  Ptolemy  II 


Following  the  battle  of  Panion,  Palestine, 
lost  to  the  Ptolemies,  passes  under  the  control 
of  the  Seleucids,  198  B.C. 


Persecution  of  the  Jews,  pollution  of  the 
temple,  167  B.C.  (I  Mace.  1:57) 


THE  MACCABEES 


Alexander     Balas,     usurper, 

150-145  B.C. 

Antiochus  VI,  145-142/1  B.C. 


Demetrius  II,  145-139/8  B.C. 


Antiochus  VII,  Sidetes,  139/8- 
129  B.C. 


Seleucids  continue  amidst 
rivalries  until  Syria  becomes 
a  Roman  province,  65  B.C. 


Judas,  166-160  B.C.;  temple  purified,  164  B.C. 
(I  Mace.  4:52) 

Jonathan,  160-142  B.C.,  high  priest,  152  B.C. 
(I  Mace.  10:21) 


Simon,  142-134  B.C.;  recognized  by  Demetrius, 
142  B.C.  (I  Mace.  13:41) 

John  Hyrcanus  I,  134-104  B.C. 
Judas  Aristobulus  I,  104-103  B.C. 
Alexander  Jannaeus,  103-76  B.C. 
Alexandra,  queen,  76-67  B.C. 
Aristobulus  II,  67-63  B,c. 


Pornpey  takes  Jerusalem,  63  B.C. 


Maccabean  dynasty  continues  nominally: 
Hyrcanus  II,  63-40  B.C. 
Antigonus  Mattathias,  40-37  B.c. 

Antipater  and  his  son  Herod  rise  to  effective 

power 


149 


THE  INTERPRETER'S  BIBLE 


TABLE  X.  NEW  TESTAMENT  EVENTS  SYNCHRONIZED  WITH  ROMAN  AND 
PALESTINIAN  HISTORY  AFTER  THE  ROMAN  CONQUEST 


ROME 


First  Triumvirate,  60  B.C.: 
Pompey,  Caesar,  Crassus 


Second    Triumvirate,    43 
B.C.: 

Antony,  Octavius,  Lepi- 
dus 


Augustus    (Octavius),   31 
B.C.-A.D.  14 


Tiberius,  A.D.  14-37 


Caligula,  A.D.  37-41 
Claudius,  A.D.  41-54 


Nero,  AJX  54-68 


Galba,     Otho,     VitelliuS; 
A.D.  68